Earth Commission

The Earth Commission is a group of leading scientists convened by Future Earth. Their mission will be to synthesize the latest science to underpin the development of science-based targets for systems like land, water, and biodiversity.  

Earth Commission Announces Co-Chairs and Members

 

September 19, 2019

Three of the world’s foremost scientists will co-chair a commission of leading international experts to identify risks and develop a coherent suite of scientific targets to protect Earth’s life support systems. Johan Rockström, Joyeeta Gupta, and Dahe Qin will co-chair the Earth Commission, comprising an initial 19 members

The 19 commissioners include leading scientists in both natural and social sciences from 13 countries: Argentina, Australia (2), China (2), France, Germany (2), Ghana, India, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands (2), the United Kingdom, and the United States (4). 

Future Earth will host the Earth Commission’s scientific secretariat in collaboration with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).

The group will begin immediately – and complete by 2021 – a high-level synthesis of scientific knowledge on the biophysical processes that regulate Earth’s stability and targets to ensure this stability. The commission will also explore social transformations required for sustainable development to reach these targets.

The goal, ultimately, is to translate these into tangible science-based targets for Earth, specifically tailored to cities and companies. This translational work will be undertaken by a new Science Based Targets Network (SBTN) comprised of leading NGOs, enabling cities and companies to reduce their impact on and restore our oceans, freshwater, land, and biodiversity.

The aim is to make this standard practice in leading companies and cities by 2025.

The Earth Commission and the Science Based Targets Network are parts of the Global Commons Alliance, a network of organizations aiming to transform our economic systems to ensure our planet remains habitable. The alliance, launched in June, includes Earth HQ, a media portal for the planet, which will share the big picture of how Earth Systems are performing and tracking progress towards solutions.

Over 630 companies are already using science to commit how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) set up in 2014.

The Earth Commission will build on and complement existing assessments, such as those conducted by the IPCC and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). 

The life on Earth that we desire for today and tomorrow fundamentally depend on clean air and water, biodiversity, healthy land and ocean and a stable climate. These are the global commons: the shared resources that ensure a habitable planet upon which we can all thrive.

Urgent Action is Needed

Today, human activities are accelerating changes in the Earth system at a scale and pace that is threatening the global commons – and the foundation for human well-being. Urgent action is needed to slow the change.

To combat climate change, the world’s nations have agreed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees, but similar science-based targets for other parts of the Earth system are missing.

We Need Targets –  Guided by Science

The mission of the Earth Commission is to provide the scientific insights needed to set science-based targets that can help maintain the functioning life support systems of Earth: land, biodiversity, freshwater, oceans.

The Earth Commission is a group of leading scientists and experts who will analyze the latest science to publish reports defining the conditions for a stable planet. Up to 20 Commissioners will be appointed during 2019. Future Earth will host the Earth Commission’s scientific secretariat in collaboration with Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PIK, and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, IIASA.

Part of a Larger Network

The Earth Commission will be complementary to and build on existing assessments, such as the IPCC, IPBES and GEO reports. In areas with intergovernmental processes in place, the Commission’s work will inform the setting of science-based targets developed through those processes.

The insights of the Earth Commission will be central for informing the work of a new Science Based Targets network developing methodologies for companies and cities to set specific science-based targets to guide policies and practice.

Future Earth

The work of the Earth Commission complements and is informed by Future Earth’s initiative Science Based Pathways for Sustainability, which is mobilising our extensive network of global research projects and knowledge action networks to generate new research at national, regional and global levels to feed the synthesis of the Earth Commission

Global Commons Alliance

Both the Earth Commission and the Science Based Targets network are parts of the Global Commons Alliance, a network of organizations aiming to ensure our planet remains habitable.