38 minutes | Apr 7th 2021

Frank Biermann, Professor of Global Sustainability Governance at Utrecht University and Founder of the Earth System Governance Project

Interview TranscriptTranscribed by Otter AIKimberly WhiteHello and welcome to Common Home Conversations. Today we are joined by Frank Biermann, Professor of Global Sustainability Governance at Utrecht University, Director of the ERC GlobalGoals Project, Founder of the Earth System Governance Project, and Editor of the Earth System Governance journal. Thank you for joining us today, Frank!Frank BiermannThank you so much, Kimberly. It's a pleasure being with you.Kimberly WhiteYou're a professor of global sustainability governance at Utrecht University and founder of the Earth System Governance Project. Can you tell us more about these experiences and the focus of your current research?Frank BiermannOh, thank you so much. But there are two different functions. Let me just explain both of them. The one is, of course, my normal professional function. I'm a professor of global sustainability governance at Utrecht University. That means essentially, I am a political scientist, I also have some background in international law. But essentially, my research, my interest in teaching also is political science, international relations. So I'm driven by trying to better understand how we can create institutions that can deal better with problems of global environmental change. We know that the earth system, the entire Earth system is today, transformed by human actions, climate change is accelerating, and we have to struggle very hard to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees. Species extinction, the worldwide spread of plastics in the oceans, ozone depletion, all these kinds of problems are essentially global problems. That means countries have to work together, governments need to agree on joint goals, they have to get together to share resources to share knowledge, governments have to adjust the policies, and we all have to change to adjust to these kinds of challenges. And for that, we need international institutions. We need international governance. And so far, these institutions are not effective; they're not really able to cope with these challenges. So, therefore, we need better institutions. We need better global governance. And this is what keeps me busy for the last 30 years, this is my field of research, this is the field of my teaching, and this is also where I'm personally extremely passionate about. I should also add that it's not necessarily just a picture of a win-win. It's not that we just need to have a better institutional design, and then everything will be resolved, and everything will be better. Instead, I'm very much concerned about conflicts of power and global inequalities and all kinds of conflicts that we have that countries are in a variety of relationships of inequality, dependence, post-colonialism, etc. So this is also part of the story of international institutions that we have to take into account, and we want to understand how we can try together to achieve an equitable and more sustainable future for all within the natural basis and the natural conditions of our planet. So this is my research, this is what I’m working on, and this is the key area of my Chair as a Professor of Global Sustainability Governance at Utrecht University as part of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht.And Earth System Governance is a slightly different story. It is not only about research, certainly not about my own research; it is about the network. It's about global networking to jointly study these questions that I have just laid out. And here we are a bit building on models that have been developed in the natural sciences in terms of global research collaborations. And the earlier years, like in the 19th century, social science was very much an individual activity. People were just there, they read a book, and you write a book, and you read a couple of books, and then you continue the progress of scientific knowledge in the social sciences. And this is essentially the model of the 19th century and the 20th century in the social sciences. And I believe that we cannot continue like this any longer. So we have to work much more together. And the natural sciences have done this already since the 1950s. Working together in large communities and large networks, where you exchange data, you exchange scientific insights work according to large science plans for sometimes five or ten years, where hundreds of scientists work together and try to jointly really better understand the reality of what's going on. And this is a model that natural scientists have done for quite some time. I believe it's also very much important for the social sciences. And this is essentially what the Earth System Governance Project is about. It's a global network. It's a network where hundreds of scientists are coming together and jointly discuss findings, research methods, questions, and theories about this big challenge of governance and the transformation of the entire earth system. So we're not talking about air pollution; we talk about the transformation of the entire Earth system. We're not talking about the protection of individual species in our neighborhoods; we talk about the sixth mass extinction of species that are kind of being extinct on a huge scale, we're talking about sea-level rise, we are talking about land degradation, we are talking about ozone depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. Half of the habitable land on earth we are using for agriculture, and we have totally transformed the planet. And I think this is a situation that requires a new perspective. And this is not the perspective of environmental policy. This is the perspective where we have to discuss these governance problems, the governance challenges, of the entire planetary system. And this is why we have developed this concept of earth system governance, which means institutions that are dealing with social-ecological systems at planetary scale. Kimberly WhiteDuring your time working in this field, have you seen any shift in environmental governance policy towards a more earth system-based approach?Frank BiermannNot on a systemic level. I think some of the key issues are not sufficiently addressed in the political space. Climate change certainly is. I mean, climate change certainly is a big issue also because of the youth movement that is associated with it, and I think it's a key issue in many countries. Not in all countries, but like in the Netherlands, where I'm based, it's certainly one of the key issues in political discourse. So there, I certainly see a change. I mean, when I started my career, it was a marginal issue; it was a fringe issue. And we went to international conferences on international relations; for example, the environmental committee was extremely small. And now the International Studies Association is one of the big institutions in science, in the study of international relations, Now, the environmental studies section there is one of the largest. This change is certainly there. I missed the change on a variety of other issues like food, for example. I am missing a strong focus on some of these big, big issues that we have to discuss, like the provision of food in times of climate change, and also many of the responses to climate change, where I believe that the provision of food is one of the big challenges in the future. And here, I'm missing strong political attention to these kinds of issues. And this is one of the issues that I'm working on to bring this forward. But generally, there is an increase of attention in the public debate and the political debate, but surely not enough. I mean, that's surely not enough. I think this sense of crisis is not very strong yet, in the political system, and ultimately, societies. I mean, if you look at the public debates, like the political needs, for example, climate change of decarbonizing our societies within one generation, it's a huge challenge, and you don't see it efficiently reflected in daily politics. So, therefore, it's better than in the 1990s. Change is there, but it's surely not sufficient yet, compared to the challenges that are ahead of us in this generation.Kimberly WhiteAbsolutely, I know, with the recent NDC synthesis report, and we talked about this in a previous interview with Princess Esmeralda of Belgium. With the current NDC's, we're still not at that level of ambition needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals. And, that's problematic, but thankfully, I would say, one thing that has come out of the pandemic has been the discussions about the need for green recovery. So I'm hopeful that we'll start to see some real concrete action moving forward. Frank BiermannI fully agree. I mean, I fully agree. This kind of public knowledge that what has been committed to by governments so far, and also other societal actors, is absolutely not sufficient to achieve the decarbonization challenges that are ahead of us. And they have to be implemented; it's very clear that we have to drastically reduce our emissions within one generation. And we have to start now, and current policies are not sufficient. So I think this is one of the big, big challenges. As I said, corona is an important issue for one or two years now, but the big challenge ahead is climate change, but also some other issues of earth system transformation. So we are really observing massive changes in the planetary systems, and we have to take urgent action, and this is not happening so far. And this is important, for example, in climate change, I mean, there are debates driven by some people to use alternatives, which could be like geoengineering, or some people say that politically, we are not achieving the decarbonization challenges and targets, so, therefore, we should have totally different approaches, which I'm not supporting, to be very clear. These alternative futures of geoengineered climate, are well on the table and are very much discussed, and tomorrow we will have a new report by the National Academy of Science of the United States, which is discussing geoengineering, we have to see what the outcome of this report will be. But the decision that the current generation is taking is fundamental, and also make it very clear, I am very much objecting to the one frame, which is what I call the one humankind frame that it's all one humankind. I'm also tempted sometimes to speak on this more than I probably did already in the last couple of minutes about we the humans, we the people. And it's not like that, I mean, there are people who are consuming much above the global average, and these are the rich countries in the north. And other people have been much less responsible for the challenge, for the problems that we have now and are probably ought to be much more vulnerable to the impact of earth system transformation. So it's a huge inequality challenge also that we are facing. And this has to be made very, very clear in all of these debates about global sustainability, climate change, or earth system governance, etc.Kimberly WhiteAbsolutely. And you know, here in the United States, we're the world's second-largest emitter, and we only have a fraction of the population of countries such as China and India. I think many of the G20 countries have this issue where we have consumed so much, and we always keep consuming. That ‘bigger is better’ mindset is what has gotten us into this trouble that we're in, and the countries such as the island communities who have such a minimal footprint are the ones on the frontlines, and they're the ones facing the consequences for our consumption patterns.Frank BiermannI fully agree. This is absolutely the case. And this is very, very important to always keep it in mind especially in those communities that are more in favor of one humankind discourse, as I said. This is the discourse of the Anthropocene, for example, which is a new term that has been proposed to describe the current epoch in planetary history as important is driven by the human species. That's where the name Anthropocene comes from. And normally, I also use the word, many of my publications have the word Anthropocene in the title. I think that is also a very important defining characteristic, but it is hiding or tends to hide inequalities. And, this is very important to bring this all the time onto the table, and also discuss it in all kinds of policy proposals, which includes also, and we can come back to this maybe later, my good friends from the common heritage of humankind idea that I'm very much supportive of but also here, it is very much important to look at global inequalities and to emphasize that the responsibility for the past causation of earth system transformations, particularly climate change, is very much with rich countries in the north, and also the responsibility to address these challenges. And finally, also, it's very much important in the governance structures that we are about to develop in dealing with earth system transformation to Earth System Governance, to develop this in a way that gives large voting power in whatever ways it is or takes into account global inequalities and also empowers the vulnerable people in all kinds of decision making that we're setting up. And this is very, very important.  You see it in the role of science, for example, I mean, to the extent that we give a stronger role for scientists in decision making, implicitly or explicitly, then we have to acknowledge that the scientific community is essentially based in the global laws. So, therefore, giving more power to scientists, we have to understand to what extent they are affected or influenced by being citizens of OECD countries. Same as for civil society with a good colleague of mine, Carole-Anne Sénit, we're working on a book in which we are discussing imbalances in global civil society. I mean, those people who are in New York at the United Nations and are speaking there for global civil society, we try to understand to what extent are they really representing a global civil society and to what extent are they just representing what is seen as global civil society in the rich countries in the north. And it has to do a lot with money; it has to do with funding; it has to do with possibilities; it has to do with the discourse of power. And we did lots of interviews and studies of the procedures of how civil society works in New York. And it is very much so that the interest and the organization that is under one way or the other, based in or paid by, funded by the rich countries, are those that are most powerful. So, inequality is very much a problem also for Earth System Governance, and we have to address it very much in our research.Kimberly WhiteIn a previous interview with Ana Barreira of IIDMA, she relates that we have a well-developed international legal framework for the protection of the environment, but it's framed in a very siloed manner. There is no interconnectivity. How can an earth system approach better reconcile environmental law with growing social, environmental, and economic concerns?Frank BiermannWell, this is a very, very good question. Certainly, the assessment is absolutely true. I mean, the governance systems that we have are extremely fragmented; at the country level, in different ministries, where everybody does their own thing, but also at the global level, international organizations, UN agencies, etc. So there's not sufficient integration and coherence, and alignment of international and national institutions when it comes to global sustainability and earth system governance. The problem is absolutely well taken. The question is what to do about it. So at the national level, this is a long-standing debate on how you can try to improve national coherence when it comes to sustainability. It's an open question, but I think, therefore, we definitely need to have a stronger alliance of institutions at the national level. My work was very much at the global level, trying to understand how we can improve the integration and collaboration of international organizations to jointly achieve sustainability and to work together in a more meaningful way. In 2012, a group of us 33 authors published an article, which was called Navigating the Anthropocene: Strengthening Earth System Governance, in which we together proposed a United Nations Council on the sustainable development in the sense of, set up an integrative body in the UN system at the highest level, that would be able and empowered and mandated to integrate the policies and programs of different institutions and organizations in the UN system. This didn't go through. What we got instead is the high-level political forum, which is high-level welded terms in the terminology, but it's not a council; it is more like a forum. And to the extent how it is working, we have to see it, I mean, it was established some years ago, so it's not maybe too early to say whether it's success or failure in any way, but I have my doubts, it's certainly not what we had proposed originally. The alternative, what the United Nations also had agreed upon in 2015, is the Sustainable Development Goals. These are 17 large goals that the UN has come up with after a couple of years of negotiations. They have 169 targets, and they are supposed to steer national policies and international policies into the direction of sustainable development in a variety of areas in food and energy and biodiversity, climate as well as governance, and many other areas. And here, this is the idea is to break down silos. One of the underlying ideas is to break down the silos and to achieve integration of the social, environmental, and economic concerns. Whether it works is a big question, we surely need a stronger framework to really break down the silence in a more meaningful way. And what is very important, also, it's not only just integration and collaboration as such, I think it's very much about the economic organizations, which is the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and a couple of others, that are largely outside the standard sustainability policies of the United Nations. And I think here, this neoliberal capitalist approach that these organizations are still taking is one that is harmful for the earth system policies that are needed. And I think here it is very important to bring in more sustainability into these powerful economic organizations and to work towards a much more integrative approach. So I think there are strong arguments in favor of changing the policies in these organizations, meaning to bring much more concerns of social concerns and ecological concerns into these organizations. So that I think is very much important. And this is what the Earth System Governance Project is studying, among many other things. So we are really concerned about how all these organizations are collaborating and how key concerns of Earth System Governance can be best advanced and protected. For example, food I mentioned already, that the provision of food we have 800 million people who have not enough food today. And the pressures on land and on food are increasing tremendously, especially from the climate policy space, where we have an increasing pressure to increase the use of biofuels. And maybe also in the next 10 or 20 years, an increasing pressure to use land for the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is one thing that is openly discussed as part of the IPCC modeling approaches many of them. And I think here; it's very important to develop strong global policies that are dealing with the provision of food and the protection of food security for everybody, especially in the most vulnerable countries and their regions. But overall, I think the integration, I'm very much in agreement with the previous speaker that was on there, and I very much believe that it's important to strengthen the integration of global governance in these domains.Kimberly WhiteAbsolutely, and, going back to the food aspect, it's really important; I think that we recognize that the solutions to our food security problems are not going to be one size fits all. They will vary by region and by scale, and it's important that we put more research into that as well and not continue with the path of agricultural production that is harmful to our environment, because again, everything is interconnected. The World Health Organization mentioned that 75 percent of new emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin, and the leading causation of that is land clearing. And that's for deforestation and for land conversion for agriculture. Everything is interconnected, and we have to be mindful while we're coming up with these solutions.Frank BiermannAbsolutely, I fully agree. And one part of the story is the production of livestock, of course. I think it's, technically, from a system perspective, almost like a silver bullet. I mean, if you look at the data, I think we're kind of about 50 percent of the land that is usable on our planet is used for agriculture. So it's kind of everything that is not like a dune or rock or desert, or whatever or glacier. This is 50 percent of that land we're using; the rest is for forests, shrubs, settlements, freshwater areas, and others. And of this land, I mean, 70 percent, we are using for agriculture for livestock, which is meat and dairy. And so here, technically, I mean, this is a huge part of the terrestrial landscape that is used for a product that is not necessarily needed. So here, I think strong policies that are reducing the consumption, especially of meat, I mean, it's not a silver bullet as such for all kinds of problems, but it's certainly helpful. And this is one thing that is absolutely missing in the public debate sufficiently. I mean, my students are, quite a few of my students are vegetarians, of course, but as a political challenge, I think it's not. We talk about carbon taxes to reduce the amount of carbon that people use. But I would be very much supportive also of meat taxation and regulation to reduce the use of meat because this reduces the pressure as you laid out; it reduces substantially the pressure on land, in general. Of course, there are exceptions, it's a bit more nuanced, but I think this is one of the areas where I think policies could make a difference.Kimberly WhiteDefinitely, and industrial agriculture is a leading cause of the climate crisis. Animal agriculture specifically emits around seven gigatons of carbon dioxide annually, and the majority of those emissions come from beef and cattle. The process of creating just one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain and 15,000 liters of water. That's just not sustainable for our growing population.Frank Biermann I mean, of course. I understand that. I mean, wasn't it like the United States, where one state has introduced a meat-free day, and the other has introduced a meat day. So it is a big societal challenge and debatable, but I'm absolutely fully in agreement with the data and your conclusion that you just laid out. I think this is one of the elements of change that we can accept and drive forward. It certainly is an uphill struggle. I mean, the point is, what's very important in these debates, I mean, kind of this is, among sustainability practitioners and scholars, I think there's a lot of agreement on this point. I think one point is, of course, very important for many of these measures, especially taxation. It has to be organized and designed in a way that the poor are protected. And I think it's very important. So if you have any taxation for environmental bad's, like carbon or meat, it has to be organized in a way that the poor benefit. That was a key issue, especially on carbon taxation. I think it's important to design these policies at whatever scale you want to do, national, statewide in America, or globally, that you do take the global inequalities, national inequalities into account, and whatever you want to design, I think that's very, very important. And also I think it's not only a kind of putting the blame on people individually, but it's also very much on structures. And it's also important to take into account that we should not have just an approach where we say people have to change, but certainly, they have to. But it's very much also a challenge to change the structures, economic structures, political structures to allow a more sustainable lifestyle. Kimberly WhiteHow can Earth System Governance help bring about the ambitious changes critical to addressing current and future generations' biggest problems?Frank BiermannSo, essentially, what we are talking about in the Earth System Governance Project is a transformation of governance systems at the local level, the national level, and the global level. I mean, this is interlinked; it's multi-level governance. So we have to change the way how politically, institutionally we are governing the local space, villages and cities, and regions and provinces. We have to change the national system. And also, this is my own personal research, is very much at the global level. So I'm very keen on understanding, especially how we can change the global governance system, which we have inherited from the 19th century. Which has changed a little bit in the 20th century, and we have to make it fit for the 21st century. And that means to me that we need to have stronger institutions that are able to deal with these challenges, climate change, biodiversity, but also food, water, energy, and providing also these resources to those who are needing them. We need to have a huge public movement, especially in the rich countries in the north, for massive decarbonization, for massive changes in the way we're dealing with land and water and many of these resources. Changes also to international relations, where the north is, in many ways, still exploiting countries in the south, and this needs to change. And I think this is very much, talking here on this podcast is very much a challenge for everybody to get involved and participate in working and fighting and struggling for a better world. And I think this is very much a challenge for the current generation. Because if you look carefully at the data, like climate change is the biggest example probably, again, I think that the current generation is probably the last generation that will not be most brutally affected by climate change. So it's a very, very important point of time, right now, these years and these years are so important. And in the American context, since you're based in the United States, of course, we have a window of opportunity because we had a change in the administration, which means that now these issues are at least higher on the agenda. So it's really the moment where we can really work towards much stronger efforts to keep the planet in some form or shape in the way how we have inherited the earth from our ancestors. Kimberly WhiteAbsolutely, and I think the Earth System Governance initiatives you're working on have been quite impressive and help move the needle. And again, we need to amp up our ambition, like our national commitments and what we're doing at the state and city level and the business level. We have to continue working toward climate action. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has said that the war on nature that we're currently waging is suicidal. So we don't have time to wait anymore, we have to do this action now. Or else, you know, we're not going to have this future that we want for our kids and our grandkids.Frank BiermannI fully agree.Kimberly WhiteSo, in Planetary Justice: A Research Framework, you discuss how we have begun to see a justice turn in political discourse and the need for a "richer debate on the conceptual foundations of what justice research on global sustainability environmental change could mean," you also propose a new conceptual framework on planetary justice. Can you tell us more about this framework?Frank BiermannThank you so much. I mean, this is really one of my research projects that are really very dear to my heart. I'm very passionate about it. And just in basic terms, first justice. And justice, I mean, I mentioned already, I think, at the beginning of the podcast, we live in an extremely unequal world, I mean, as a human species. The wealth on our planet is absolutely unequally divided. I mean, the data is all well known, and for example, one percent of the richest people on our planet have as much wealth as more than half of humanity, and that's a huge imbalance. I think half of the world's population has less than 5 US dollars per day. And we have this tremendous accumulation of wealth increasingly, also with the billionaires, with the eight richest people in the world. So inequality is tremendous. And it has increased a lot over the last 10 or 20 years. And as I perceive this, it's a value judgment. I mean, it's not fair. So we have to work towards it. So it's a question of injustice, which is also driving in, in many ways, all kinds of sustainability issues. So, therefore, also, I mean, it's, I'm not the only person to say this as a new or increasing reference in the scientific literature also about questions of justice. Environmental justice has been discussed for many, many decades already; fantastic work has been done on the environmental justice community. And you'll find it in all kinds of other communities as well. So this is what we described as a justice turn in the sustainability debate and the earth system governance debate as well. The point is, and this is what we try to address in this paper, is that there's no common agreement of justice. I mean, so everybody uses the word, and everybody wants to have justice and less inequality. But what exactly is meant? This is quite often kind of left vague or not defined or is not further explicated. And this is a problem. So what we try to do on this particular paper that you're referring to is that we tried to create a framework, which is built on existing philosophies; it's not new. What we did, we just tried to organize as political scientists, not philosophers, not as this, but as political science, try to organize the entire debate of injustice of the last 2000 years, some in kind of in very rough ways on very simple questions, simple questions that we said. So you can just, it's almost like a questionnaire that can help people to identify what kind of theory of justice you are adhering to. What is your position when it comes to planetary justice? So this is what we developed. And we did this for a purpose that we hope that this framework can be used or could be used for research. For example, in integrated assessment models, these are kind of these computer models that are predicting, not predicting our future, but they provide scenarios they provide an idea about how the future could look like under certain conditions and certain assumptions. And here, we believe that these ethical positions that we developed, a series of justice frameworks that we develop, could be useful to shape this analysis in a way that is much more linked to real philosophical traditions and positions. We try to bring together, we try to bring a framework that can be used for modelers, but it's based on political theory in a much more concrete, much more meaningful way. And the same is also true for text, and just for any political position, for any book, for any article ever you do. We hope that our framework can help to analyze text, to analyze its causes, and to really make it much more explicit what kind of justice discourse is underlying this particular paper, underlying in this particular position, and try to make it more explicit, and therefore have a much more informed discussion about what justice actually means. And this is one part. And the other part is also that we, this is a start. I mean, it's also just one paper. So we still trying to build up a community of researchers and all to try to explore in more detail this idea about planetary justice, and we have environmental justice, but as I said, in the beginning, tried to explain. So environmentalism is a little bit like the 19th or 20th century. So now we are facing these issues of planetary transformation, intergenerational justice, interspecies justice, intragenerational justice, all these different problems that come up, and how can we understand justice between species, between generations in a meaningful way and be tried to bring this all forward. And we have, and this is a little announcement almost, we have a task force for that, we have the Planetary Justice Task Force, which is this small network of colleagues in the Earth System Governance Project that is discussing these issues. And we meet on a regular basis, and we exchange papers. We have a special issue in the Earth System Governance Journal in which we are discussing these issues. So it's a very, very exciting area of research, and if anybody has any views and comments, I'm very also eager to hear from the communities who have listened to this podcast, I'm always keen to hear what other people think about planetary justice.Kimberly WhiteAbsolutely, and during this time, a lot of conversation, especially in I'd say, the past year or two, has been focused around the topic of climate justice. So I find the concept of planetary justice that you discuss, particularly very interesting. Can you share your thoughts on the proposal by the Common Home of Humanity?Frank BiermannOh, thank you. Very good question. Of course. Yeah. I'm extremely intrigued by this initiative. I think it's extremely important. It's important to bring together all these different scientific communities that the Common Home of Humanity idea tries to bring together. I'm very supportive of this idea about developing earth system law. So there are one or two issues, I think, for the next phase of this line of research, that I think are important to consider. One is the issue, I mean, if you look at the text of common heritage, it's a lot about humanity. And as I mentioned earlier, it has a little bit of following this One Humankind narrative, in the sense that we all together are all happy and everything is fine. But this is actually not the point. I mean, because humanity is not like that. I mean, so the term humanity and the term humankind are blurring any consideration of poverty, conflict, exploitation, colonialism, racism, misogynism, and many other issues. So it kind of tries to present a picture that is maybe more rosy than it is. And I think it would be great in the further development of the common heritage idea and this condominium idea, to bring in more the conflictual and inequality aspects of humanities. I think this would be, I think, important also for the effect on the impact of this fantastic idea. The same as a bit about they're relying a lot on the planetary boundaries concept, which also has been a major impact on the earth system science and the earth systems governance idea. But these boundaries are defined by the natural conditions. It's a natural science concept, essentially. So here, the question is, where are the social boundaries? I mean, where are the boundaries of our societies in terms of hunger and terms of exploitation, in terms of lack of shelter, lack of clean water, etc.? So these boundaries are equally important, and they're not necessarily part of this concept. And I think they could be stronger in the common heritage community as well. So I think it's a fantastic idea, but the social boundaries could be brought in, it's not necessarily the way the well-know doughnut is doing it, in a sense, by adding a layer of boundaries, I think it's much more a matter of integration, of integrating social-ecological boundaries and social-ecological systems. I think that's the key way forward. So I would kind of invite, also very happy to discuss it with the colleagues of the common heritage of humankind approach to developing the planetary boundaries concept more into a direction where the social aspects are much, much stronger. So just to put it simply, I think it's really a very, very important initiative. But I think it's important also to strengthen the focus on inequality, injustice, and colonialism, and many other ways on which humankind is actually not one humankind, but the divided humankind's, and to bring in a stronger focus on these social boundaries and social-ecological systems, and maybe also to discuss in more detail, but this is something we can maybe do in the years to come about the governance mechanisms that need to be in place to deal with the value conflicts that are inherent in the common home of humankind. Kimberly WhiteAlright, and there you have it. The big challenge facing humanity is climate change. Massive changes in the planetary systems have already been observed and it is imperative that we take action now. Our policies are insufficient. We need a paradigm shift that integrates social-ecological boundaries and social-ecological systems. We need to have stronger institutions that are equipped to address the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and land degradation while also supporting and empowering the most vulnerable societies in our global community. That is all for today, and thank you for joining us for this episode of Common Home Conversations Beyond UN75. Please subscribe, share, and be sure to tune in on April 21st to continue the conversation with our special guest, Maja Groff, international lawyer and Convenor of the Climate Governance Commission. And visit us at www.ThePlanetaryPress.com for more episodes and the latest news in sustainability, climate change, and the environment.
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