New Earth Commission Working Group to Focus on the Challenges of Cross-Scale Translation

The Earth Commission is tasked with providing a global-scale assessment to define a safe and just corridor for people and planet. For climate, a target of keeping global warming down to 1.5 degrees has already been internationally agreed upon; similar global targets must now be identified for Earth’s other biophysical systems to safeguard natural resources such as land, biodiversity and water – our global commons – whilst also considering social issues such as justice and equity.

But what are the challenges of translating global scale targets into concrete and actionable targets for local actors? This is what the Commission’s Working Group on Translation and Methods will investigate.

“The fundamental departure point of this working group is that there are missing links between the planetary level targets and local actors such as business and cities. There is a need to conduct a systematic review on some of the challenges and methodologies of cross-scale translation,” explained Xuemei Bai, who is an expert on cities and urban development and one of the co-leads of the working group.

The working group will deliver an assessment chapter on current methodologies and issues related to cross-scale translation for the Earth Commission synthesis report. The Earth Commission provides this report in its role as a component of the Global Common Alliance. The synthesis report will feed into the work of the Science-Based Targets Network, another component, whose task is to aid businesses and cities to translate science into guidance and targets for local actors. The working group on translations and methods is therefore working closely with the Science-Based Targets Network on the issues of translation whilst also acting as a link between them and the Earth Commission.

The Translations and Methods Working Group held its first meeting in September and is led by Xuemei Bai, Distinguished Professor in Urban Environment and Human Ecology at the Australian National University and Stefan Bringezu, Professor in Sustainable Resource Management at the Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR) at the University of Kassel.

The working group encompasses a variety of internationally distinguished academics with expertise in areas such as cities, businesses, production and consumption, modelling and policy. The Earth Commission appointed the members based on an open call for Earth Commission nominations in 2019 and targeted nominations from Future Earth’s research networks.

Prof Xuemei Bai, Australian National University
Prof Stefan Bringezu, University of Kassel