Published on Nov 23, 2011

News Release by the Planet under Pressure Conference – www.planetunderpressure2012.net – on the launch of Policy Briefs

To avert environmental disaster, scale of reform of international organizations rivals post-WWII era; 3,000 delegates at Planet Under Pressure scientific conference in March to provide major recommendations to Rio+20 Summit.

Reducing the risk of potential global environmental disaster requires a “constitutional moment” comparable in scale and importance to the reform of international governance that followed World War II, say experts preparing the largest scientific conference leading up to next June’s Rio+20 Earth Summit.

Stark increases in natural disasters, food and water security problems and biodiversity loss are just part of the evidence that humanity may be crossing planetary boundaries and approaching dangerous tipping points. An effective environmental governance system needs to be instituted soon, according to independent experts commissioned by organizers of the huge “Planet Under Pressure” conference in London March 26-29, 2012.

As policy-makers gather in Durban, South Africa, for the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Planet Under Pressure consortium today released the first five of nine policy briefs on key issues. The briefs deal with biodiversity and ecosystem services, food and water security, interconnected risks and solutions, and a topic common to all: reforming environmental governance from the local to the global level.

The international Planet Under Pressure conference will be the largest gathering of global change and sustainability scientists prior to the Rio+20 Earth Summit next June in Rio de Janeiro. The 3,000 global experts expected at the London conference will provide a “State of the Planet” assessment, discuss concepts for planetary stewardship and societal and economic transformation, and prescribe a recommended route to global sustainability.

Sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the conference is being organized by a consortium of four leading global research programmes: International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, DIVERSITAS-the international programme on biodiversity science, International Human Dimensions Programme on global environmental change, the World Climate Research Programme — collectively known as the Earth System Science Partnership.

Despite more than 900 environmental treaties coming into force in the past 40 years, human-induced environmental degradation continues, reaching levels that prompted ICSU’s blunt warning in 2010 that “humanity has reached a point in history at which a prerequisite for development – the continued functioning of the Earth system as we know it – is at risk.”

Authors of the policy briefs note recently published contentions that humanity has already pushed Earth past limits on climate change, biodiversity loss and nitrogen use — three of nine proposed “planetary boundaries” that must be respected for societies to grow and prosper.

→ Full text of the news release

→ Policy Brief Transforming Governance and Institutions for a Planet under PressureRevitalizing the Institutional Framework for Global Sustainability

→ Policy Briefs on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Food and Water Security, Interconnected Risks and Solutions