THE EARTH COMMISSION:
A COMPASS FOR HUMANITY
The Earth Commission is a group of leading scientists convened by Future Earth. Their mission is to assess the latest science to underpin the development of science-based targets for systems like land, water, and biodiversity. By setting such targets, companies and cities will be able to contribute to re-stabilizing Earth’s natural systems and work towards ensuring a planet where humans can thrive.
The Earth Commission is the first holistic attempt to establish scientific guardrails at global and regional levels, for Earth’s life support systems.
Urgent Action is Needed
To combat climate change, the world’s nations have agreed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, but similar science-based targets for other parts of the Earth system are missing.
“This year’s fires, the rapidly warming Arctic, dying coral reefs, and unprecedented heat waves and floods across the world, are the clearest signals yet that human activities are pushing the planet further and further from the stable state we have enjoyed for 10,000 years.”
We Need Targets – Guided by Science
The Earth Commission is an international group of leading scientists and sustainability experts, announced in September 2019 by the global research organisation Future Earth. It is led by three reputed professors; Johan Rockström, Joyeeta Gupta and Dahe Qin.
Their mission 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.
“To combat climate change, nations have agreed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees. What we lack are comparable objectives for other key environmental components. The Earth Commission will fill this critical gap”.
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 Earth Commission will also explore social transformations required for sustainable development to reach these targets.
The Commission will produce an anchor report built on analysis conducted by a series of international working groups of experts. The report – defining scientific targets for a stable planet – will be published by a peer-reviewed journal by 2022.
“The UN Sustainable Development Goals are largely aspirational. The Commission’s analysis will identify practical science-based targets that help realize these aspirations and deliver on Agenda 2030 to leave no one behind.”
Part of a Larger Network
The Earth Commission is part of the Global Commons Alliance, a new platform for the environment and the economy, aiming to transform the global economy so that society can prosper on a stable and resilient planet.
The goal, ultimately, is to translate the scientific guardrails defined by the Earth Commission, into tangible science-based targets for Earth specifically tailored to cities and companies. This translational work will be undertaken by the Science Based Targets Network, comprised of renowned NGOs. The aim is to make this standard practice in leading companies and cities by 2025.
Earth HQ, the Alliance’s media component, is working to mobilize a broad broad public movement, to accelerate the adoption of science-based targets.
The fourth component of the Alliance, is the Systems Change Lab, will complement the others and distill lessons learnt to bring about disruptive system-wide change, as well as identifying gaps, and promoting coalitions to push towards systems tipping points.
Hosted and Informed by Leading Science Institutions
Future Earth is hosting the Earth Commission’s scientific secretariat in collaboration with Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PIK, and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, IIASA. UN Environment’s International Resource Panel also contributing to the work of the Earth Commission, as observer organisation.
The work of the Earth Commission is informed by Future Earth’s Global Research Projects and Knowledge Action Networks, particularly through the initiative Science Based Pathways for Sustainability, which is mobilising an extensive network to generate new research at national, regional and global levels.
Future Earth is governed by the International Science Council (ISC), Belmont Forum of funding agencies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU), the World Meteorological Organization, and the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum.