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947. Planetary Commons

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947. Planetary Commons


Dr. Johan Rockström, the visionary behind the Planetary Boundary concept, and a team of eminent researchers recently published a groundbreaking paper in PNAS on January 22. Their paper introduces the innovative concept of the Planetary Commons and advocates for Earth system governance to strengthen resilience and equity on a global scale. 

The Anthropocene era, marked by irreversible and uncontrollable changes in the Earth system, underscores the urgent need to recognize the biophysical limits imposed by human activities.
Earth system science emphasizes the existence of limits that, if exceeded, could lead to the failure of life-supporting systems and irreversible deviation from a stable state. In particular, critical biospheres such as coniferous forests, tropical forests, coral reefs, and wetlands have already experienced significant impacts. In this era of rapid loss of Earth's resilience, effective coordination and governance are essential.

The concept of the planetary commons transcends national jurisdictions and calls for a comprehensive approach to safeguarding Earth's vital functions. While the global commons concept addresses shared international assets, the distinction between the Holocene and the Anthropocene requires a renewed focus on the biophysical system as a planetary commons - a vital public good that is critical for stabilizing and regulating the Earth system.

Divided into spheres encompassing the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and cryosphere, the planetary commons is the foundation for Earth governance. Tipping points and other critical systems are integral components, as shown in Figure 2 of the paper.

Ensuring Earth's resilience is paramount to maintaining global stability and equity. While the Global Commons approach, which advocates international governance beyond sovereign states, remains relevant, the concept must evolve to encompass the entire biophysical system in the Anthropocene. The Planetary Commons framework emerges as a transformative pathway, calling for an urgent paradigm shift to sustain the Earth system amidst the challenges of the Anthropocene.


Johan Rockström et al, The planetary commons: A new paradigm for safeguarding Earth-regulating systems in the Anthropocene, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2024). https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2301531121


Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Information Program)


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