Identifying a Safe and Just Corridor for People and the Planet


Johan Rockström, Joyeeta Gupta, Timothy M. Lenton, Dahe Qin, Steven J. Lade ET AL

eeping the Earth system in a stable and resilient state, to safeguard Earth's life support systems while ensuring that Earth's benefits, risks, and related responsibilities are equitably shared, constitutes the grand challenge for human development in the Anthropocene. Here, we describe a framework that the recently formed Earth Commission will use to define and quantify target ranges for a “safe and just corridor” that meets these goals. Although “safe” and “just” Earth system targets are interrelated, we see safe as primarily referring to a stable Earth system and just targets as being associated with meeting human needs and reducing exposure to risks. To align safe and just dimensions, we propose to address the equity dimensions of each safe target for Earth system regulating systems and processes. The more stringent of the safe or just target ranges then defines the corridor. Identifying levers of social transformation aimed at meeting the safe and just targets and challenges associated with translating the corridor to actors at multiple scales present scope for future work.

Plain Language Summary
For the first time in human history, we are now forced to consider the real risk of destabilising our home, planet Earth. This is an existential risk, as we all need a planet that can sustain life and provide the basis for the well-being of all people. Here, we outline a conceptual framework for a global-scale “safe and just corridor” that delivers on these goals for people and the planet. The recently formed Earth Commission will use this framework to map key functions that regulate the state of the Earth system and provide life support to us humans, including processes such as biodiversity and nutrient cycling. It will also analyse the related justice components, for each of these Earth system target domains, in terms of how such ranges can be defined and how nature's contributions to people can be justly shared. Furthermore, social transformations that meet safe and just targets for all people and how the global-scale targets can be translated to targets for actors at other scales will be explored.


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