A discussion paper from the centre presented at the Nordic environement ministers meeting in Jukkasjärvi gives recommendations on how to work with a post-2015 agenda for global sustainability. Photo: S. Zeff/Azote

Jukkasjärvi 2013

Pointers for policymakers

Centre recommendations on post-2015 global sustainability presented to Nordic environment ministers

Commissioned by the Swedish Government office, the centre presented a range of recommendations to Nordic Nordic environment ministers present at a meeting in Jukkasjärvi in Sweden, in February 2013. Presented in a discussion paper, the recommendations focus on how to work with a post-2015 agenda for global sustainability.

The paper reiterates the scientific evidence that global sustainability is critical for development in the world, supporting the conclusions from the Rio+20 UN Earth Summit in 2012 and other recent high-level forums.

Planetary boundaries framework
The concept of planetary boundaries is proposed as a possible framework for defining global sustainability criteria, as a part of developing Sustainable Development Goals.

"The planetary boundaries concept leaves options wide open for social and economic development. It simply highlights that fundamental biophysical boundaries need to be respected in order to avoid dangerous, unacceptably costly consequences," says Sarah Cornell, co-author of the discussion paper and coordinator of the planetary boundaries research at the centre.

The paper is a joint centre effort by Maria Schultz, Johan Rockström , Marcus Öhman, Sarah Cornell, Åsa Persson and Albert Norström, with contribution from Victor Galaz.

Consider this
In a world with growing development needs and rising environmental risks the authors highlight a number of issues that will influence human wellbeing, and therefore need to be considered by policy makers when developing post-2015 goals and targets:

- Poverty alleviation and human wellbeing on the one hand, and global sustainability on the other, are connected. And global sustainability is an overarching precondition for human prosperity.

- A stable planet is necessary for human prosperity in the world; a post-2015 development agenda should consider its relationship to a safe operating space defined by global sustainability criteria such as the science-based planetary boundaries.

- A secure social and economic foundation is needed, resting on principles of individual, societal and Earth system resilience. It is important to recognise the risk of abrupt, often irreversible, changes, where conventional economic assessment of costs and benefits no longer work.

- Human and natural systems are interdependent. Rather than being viewed as separate, we should see them as intertwined social-ecological systems.

- Adaptive governance, process oriented targets, and an inclusive process to stimulate innovation are important aspects.

- Already agreed commitments and processes such as under the International Environmental Agreements (IEAs) must be considered.

"Formulating relevant and high quality Sustainable development goals requires learning where policymakers, practitioners and scientists are involved. Through such a learning process we can all build on an incredible richness of knowledge and set goals which we can implement and which take us in the right direction," says Maria Schultz, co-author of the report and Director of the SwedBio Programme at the centre.

Related info

Citation

Schultz M, Rockström J, Öhman MC, Cornell S, Persson Å, Norström A. 2013. Human prosperity requires global sustainability – a contribution to the post-2015 agenda and the development of Sustainable Development Goals. A Stockholm Resilience Centre Report to the Swedish Government Office (21 pp)

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