New Netflix documentary brings the planetary boundaries to the world

Film follows the scientific discovery of the nine planetary boundaries. A special preview already shown at Biden’s Climate Leaders Summit. The film will be released early summer 2021

Story highlights

  • The film is narrated by Sir David Attenorough
  • In 2020, 160 million Netflix households tuned in to at least one film or show that explored sustainability
  • A book also called “Breaking Boundaries: the Science of Our Planet”, and with a foreword by Greta Thunberg, will accompany the documentary

THE STORY OF OUR LIVES: Netflix has announced a new feature documentary, Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet narrated by Sir David Attenborough.

Stockholm Resilience Centre co-founder Johan Rockström and centre media strategist Owen Gaffney are both associate producers of the film which will be launched on Netflix during the summer of 2021.

The 75-minute production follows the scientific journey of Johan Rockström and his team's discovery of the nine planetary boundaries we must stay within, not just for the stability of our planet, but for the future of humanity.

The research underpinning the planetary boundaries was led by Rockström and a group of 28 internationally renowned scientists, and first published in 2009.

The framework is based on scientific evidence that human actions since the Industrial Revolution have become the main driver of global environmental change. The researchers wanted to define a "safe operating space for humanity" for the international community.

Since then it has generated enormous interest within science, policy, and practice.

President Biden’s 2021 Climate Summit

The announcement of the film coincided with a special preview of the film being shown to world leaders attending President Biden’s 2021 Climate Summit - “the most anticipated global climate moment since the Paris Agreement” was adopted in 2015.

The ten-minute trailer available at the top of this news article was previewed at the Biden Climate Summit.

“US climate envoy John Kerry had heard about the film. When he saw it, he wanted to find a place for it in the summit programme,” says Owen Gaffney.

In 2020, 160 million Netflix households tuned in to at least one film or show that explored sustainability.

The key message from the film is that we still have time. It also outlines four priorities for action: cut greenhouse gases to zero, protect the wetlands, soils, forests and oceans that absorb our impacts, change our diets and the way we farm food and move to circular economies.

Sir David Attenborough is the greatest natural storyteller of our time. He has inspired multiple generations of people. With Netflix we hope to reach even more people to inspire them to become planetary stewards – protectors of our global commons.

Johan Rockström

Book and documentary

Rockström and Gaffney have also published a book to accompany the documentary.

Also called “Breaking Boundaries: the Science of Our Planet”, and with a foreword by Greta Thunberg, the book focuses on three themes: planetary awareness, planetary boundaries and planetary stewardship.

“The book makes the case that this is really a decisive decade for humanity. But four tipping points are converging that may lock in the fastest economic transformation in history: social movements, political action, falling prices of sustainable solutions and technological breakthroughs,” says Gaffney.

The book will be launched 6 May by DK, part of Penguin/Random House.

Published: 2021-04-30