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Earth system governance is a recently developed paradigm that builds on earlier notions of environmental policy and nature conservation, but puts these into the broader context of human-induced transformations of the entire earth system.
The integrative new paradigm of earth system governance has evolved into an active research area that brings together a variety of disciplines including political science, sociology, economics, ecology, policy studies, geography, sustainability science, and law.
Major international conferences on ‘Earth System Governance’ have been held in Amsterdam (2007, 2009), Berlin (2008, 2010), Colorado (2011), Lund (2012, 2017), Tokyo (2013), Norwich (2014), Canberra (2015) and Nairobi (2016). In 2017, the 8th Annual Earth System Governance Conference took place in Lund, Sweden. This conference was co-hosted by Lund University during its 350 year celebration.In 2018 it was held in Utrecht, The Netherlands . In 2019, the conference took place in Mexico. In 2020, Brastislava was to host, but events are rescheduled for 2021 due to covid-19 .
On 16–19 May 2011, more than twenty Nobel Laureates, several leading policy-makers and some of the world’s most renowned thinkers and experts on global sustainability met for the Third Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainabilityat the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. The Nobel Laureate Symposium concluded with the Stockholm Memorandum, calling for "strengthening of Earth System Governance" as a priority for coherent global action. This memorandum has been submitted to the High-level Panel on Global Sustainability appointed by the UN Secretary General and fed into the preparations for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).
The new paradigm of earth system governance was originally developed in the Netherlands by Professor Frank Biermann in his inaugural lecture at the VU University Amsterdam, which was published later in 2007Based on this pioneering contribution, Biermann was invited by the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change to develop a long-term comprehensive international programme in this field, which became in 2009 the global Earth System Governance Project.
Key researchers who have applied the earth system governance framework in their work include Michele Betsill, John Dryzek, Peter M. Haas, Norichika Kanie, Lennart Olsson, and Oran Young.
In 2012, 33 leading scholars from the Project wrote a blueprint for reform of strengthening earth system governance, which was published in Science.
Today, the term ‘earth system governance’ is mentioned on 84000 sites according to Google.
In 2009, the UN-sponsored global change research networks have set up a long-term research programme in earth system governance, the Earth System Governance Project. The Earth System Governance Project currently consists of a network of around 370 active and about 2,300 indirectly involved scholars from all continents.Since 2015 it is part of the overarching international research platform Future Earth. The International Project Office is hosted at Utrecht University, The Netherlands.
Research centres on ‘Earth System Governance’ have been set up or designated at the University of Ghana; the University of Brasília; Utrecht University; the German Development Institute; the CETIP Network; VU University Amsterdam; the University of Amsterdam; the Australian National University; Chiang Mai University; Colorado State University; Lund University; the University of East Anglia; the University of Oldenburg; the Stockholm Resilience Centre; the University of Toronto; the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Yale University. In addition, strong networks on earth system governance research exist in China, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia.
The Earth System Governance Project organizes its research according to a conceptual framework guided by five sets of research lenses according to their 2018 Science and Implementation Plan:
These centre around four contextual conditions:
Utrecht University is a public research university in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Established 26 March 1636, it is one of the oldest universities in the Netherlands. In 2018, it had an enrolment of 31,801 students, and employed 7,191 faculty and staff. In 2018, 525 PhD degrees were awarded and 6,948 scientific articles were published. The 2018 budget of the university was €857 million.
Diversitas was an international research programme aiming at integrating biodiversity science for human well-being. In December 2014 its work was transferred to the programme called Future Earth, which was sponsored by the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability, comprising the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the 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) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Paul Jozef Crutzen is a Dutch, Nobel Prize-winning, atmospheric chemist. He is known for work on climate change research and for popularizing the term Anthropocene to describe a proposed new era when human actions have a drastic effect on the Earth.
Global change refers to planetary-scale changes in the Earth system. The system consists of the land, oceans, atmosphere, polar regions, life, the planet's natural cycles and deep Earth processes. These constituent parts influence one another. The Earth system now includes human society, so global change also refers to large-scale changes in society and the subsequent effects on the environment.
Wim C. Turkenburg is emeritus professor 'Science, Technology & Society' (STS) at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and owner of a consultancy on energy and environmental issues. He is member of the board of the Foundation Preparation Pallas reactor as well as member of some advisory and programming committees on issues ranging from nuclear waste management and the safety of nuclear power plants and natural gas exploitation to RD&D programming in the field of bioenergy and biomaterials. In addition he communicates regularly on energy issues in public media.
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5–16 in 1972.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to sustainability:
Sustainability science emerged in the 21st century as a new academic discipline. This new field of science was officially introduced with a "Birth Statement" at the World Congress "Challenges of a Changing Earth 2001" in Amsterdam organized by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). The field reflects a desire to give the generalities and broad-based approach of "sustainability" a stronger analytic and scientific underpinning as it "brings together scholarship and practice, global and local perspectives from north and south, and disciplines across the natural and social sciences, engineering, and medicine". Ecologist William C. Clark proposes that it can be usefully thought of as "neither 'basic' nor 'applied' research but as a field defined by the problems it addresses rather than by the disciplines it employs" and that it "serves the need for advancing both knowledge and action by creating a dynamic bridge between the two".
The United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) is part of the United Nations University (UNU). UNU-WIDER, the first research and training centre to be established by the UNU, is an international academic organization set up with the aim of promoting peace and progress by bringing together leading scholars from around the world to tackle pressing global problems.
The Earth System Governance Project is a long-term, interdisciplinary social science research programme originally developed under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. It started in January 2009.
John S. Dryzek is a Centenary Professor at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the University of Canberra's Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis.
Planetary boundaries is a concept involving Earth system processes that contain environmental boundaries. It was proposed in 2009 by a group of Earth system and environmental scientists, led by Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Will Steffen from the Australian National University. The group wanted to define a "safe operating space for humanity" for the international community, including governments at all levels, international organizations, civil society, the scientific community and the private sector, as a precondition for sustainable development. The framework is based on scientific evidence that human actions since the Industrial Revolution have become the main driver of global environmental change.
Will Steffen is an American chemist. He was the executive director of the Australian National University (ANU) Climate Change Institute and a member of the Australian Climate Commission until its dissolution in September 2013. From 1998 to 2004, he was the executive director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, a co-ordinating body of national environmental change organisations based in Stockholm.
Johan Rockström is a Swedish professor who served as executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University. He is a strategist on how resilience can be built into land regions which are short of water, and has published over 100 papers in fields ranging from practical land and water use to global sustainability. Johan Rockström was Executive Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute from 2004–2012.
The Stockholm Memorandum is a document signed in May 2011 by many Nobel Laureates based on the verdict from the trial of humanity, which opened the 3rd Nobel Laureate Symposium. The jury of Nobel laureates concluded that Earth has entered a new geological age, which it calls the Anthropocene, in which humans are the most significant driver of global climate change, and in which human collective actions could have abrupt and irreversible consequences for human communities and ecological systems. The memorandum was signed by 20 winner of the Nobel Prize winners or the Sveriges Riksbank Prize for Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was submitted to the United Nations High Level Panel on global sustainability.
Future Earth is a 10-year international research program which aims to build knowledge about the environmental and human aspects of Global change, and to find solutions for sustainable development. It aims to increase the impact of scientific research on sustainable development.
The contributions of women in climate change have received increasing attention in the early 21st century. Feedback from women and the issues faced by women have been described as "imperative" by the United Nations and "critical" by the Population Reference Bureau. A report by the World Health Organization concluded that incorporating gender-based analysis would "provide more effective climate change mitigation and adaptation."
Located in Potsdam, Germany, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) aims to identify and promote development pathways for a global transformation towards a sustainable society. The IASS employs a transdisciplinary approach that encourages dialogue to understand sustainability issues and generate potential solutions in cooperation with partners from the sciences, politics, the economy, and civil society. A strong network of national and international partners supports the work of the Institute. Its central research topics include the energy transition, emerging technologies, climate change, air quality, systemic risks, governance and participation, and cultures of transformation in the Anthropocene.
Michele Betsill is an American political scientist. She is a professor of political science at Colorado State University, where she has also been the chair of the department. She studies climate change and sustainability policies, with a particular focus on how non-governmental actors and sub-national governments respond to climate change. She is a co-founder of the Earth System Governance Project.
Steinar Andresen is a Norwegian political scientist and Research Professor at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) in Lysaker, Norway. He holds a Cand. Polit. degree in political science from the University of Oslo, where he served as professor from 2002-2006, and he has been a guest researcher at Princeton University, New Jersey, the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, and the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria.