Abundance within planetary boundaries – by Professor Dr Johan Rockström

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Three recent scientific insights define our future in the 21st century, and reformulate the way we define sustainable development and our opportunities for meeting human needs in this crucial year when the global community will set a new post 2015 agenda and a new climate change agreement.

We have (1) become our own geological epoch, the Anthropocene, where humanity constitutes the largest force of change on the planet, (2) we now face rapidly rising risks of inducing tipping points that could disrupt the Earth system and modern civilisations with it, and (3) the fundamental insight that the Holocene, our “Edens garden” of environmental stability over past 10,700 years is our unique and desired planetary state, defining our biophysical safe operating space.

Combining these three scientific insights with our ethical responsibility of sharing equitably the remaining ecological space on Earth and respecting the right to development for all citizens, means that the world must develop within a safe and just operating space of a stable and resilient planet. Interestingly, this is not only humanity’s new grand challenge but also a grand opportunity.

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