In 2022 we crossed 6 out of 9 planetary boundaries. Find out why this matters to you and your organization.
Have you heard about the Planetary Boundaries? Here’s an introduction to the concept as well as an update on where we are at global scale and why they matter to you and your organization.
The « planetary boundaries concept » presents a set of 9 planetary boundaries – 9 processes that regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth system – within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come.
The concept was developed in 2009 by former Stockholm Resilience Centre director Johan Rockström and a group of 28 internationally renowned scientists.
By 2015 we had already crossed 4 boundaries
❌ Human activities have pushed climate change, biodiversity loss, shifts in nutrient cycles (nitrogen and phosphorus), and land use beyond the boundaries into unprecedented territory.
In 2022, we crossed 2 additional boundaries
❌ In January 2022, humanity exceeded a planetary boundary related to environmental pollutants and other “novel entities” especially plastics.
Did you know that micro-plastics have now even been found in human blood, coming mainly from packaging and PET bottles?
❌ In April 2022 we crossed the boundary related to freshwater consumption, the global water cycle and « green water cycle».
Green water refers to terrestrial precipitation, evaporation and soil moisture, fundamental to the functioning of Earth’s ecosystems. 💦 Human pressure is now the dominant driving force determining the functioning and distribution of global freshwater systems.
Why does this matter?
🌎 Crossing these boundaries increases the risk of generating large-scale abrupt or irreversible environmental changes, which therefore impacts our lives, societies, economic stability and organizations.
What can you do?
1️⃣ Get to know the planetary boundaries.
Some of them are increasingly well-known, such as climate change. But what do you know about Biodiversity loss, the freshwater cycle or pollution?
Here are some resources to know more:
- Netflix Breaking Boundaries – The Science of our Planet with David Attenborough and Johan Rockström
- TED Talk by Johan Rockström
- Stockholm Resilience Centre – Stockholm University
2️⃣ Make sure you share this information with others.
– Work on solutions together to reduce your impacts on the planetary boundaries and become more resilient at the same time.
– How will Climate Change, biodiversity loss, pollution, disruption of the freshwater cycle impact your life, the activities of your organization and the stakeholders you collaborate with?
3️⃣ Make sure your organization operates by taking into account the Planetary Boundaries.
Some businesses have started to do this, such as for example L‘Oréal who has included the Planetary Boundaries concepts in its 2030 Sustainability plan.
Sources for this newsletter include: The Stockholm Resilience Center, Nature, The Guardian, L’Oréal.
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