Global developments such as urbanisation, population growth, rising prosperity, and related economic growth, have made humanity an influential force in the earth’s system. These developments have led to large-scale environmental impacts, which have been accompanied by a loss of ecosystem services and essential functions of the earth system. In order to better delineate the resulting risks, Steffen et al. developed in their 2009 work the concept of Planetary Boundaries, which identifies nine important processes for the stability of the Earth system and quantifies global limits for a majority of these processes.
To be effective, however, the concept of planetary boundaries must be operationalised for sub-global scales, including for states and economic actors. The two-day international conference "Making the Planetary Boundaries Work" addressed this question and brought together leading scientists like Johan Rockström as well as political, economic, civil society actors and the media. The aim was to further develop the concept in a dialogue among all actors and to identify the next steps for operationalisation, including the creation of new networks.
Key outcomes of the conference included the identification of new approaches and implementation steps in the context of the Agenda 2030, of a possible EU sustainability strategy, and within the German sustainability strategy. In addition, various follow-up activities were initiated, such as the incorporation of the concept into DBU activities, inclusion in the "Science Platform Sustainability 2030" SDG platform, and the strengthening of cooperation among trailblazer countries. Networks between interested companies, civil society organisations and the media were also established - building on previous experiences with the implementation of Planetary Boundaries.
adelphi was responsible for the conceptualisation and organisation of the conference on behalf of BMUB, UBA and DBU, in cooperation with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Stockholm Environment Institute.