Abstract

What is the future of ‘environmental’ policy in times of earth system transformations and the recognition of the ‘Anthropocene’ as a new epoch in planetary history? I argue that fifty years after the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, we need to revisit the ‘environmental policy’ paradigm because it falls short on five grounds. The paradigm (a) emphasizes a dichotomy of ‘humans’ and ‘nature’ that is no longer defensible; (b) is incompatible with more integrated research concepts that have overcome this human-environment dichotomy; (c) deemphasizes questions of planetary justice and democracy; (d) fails to deal with novel normative challenges of the Anthropocene; and (e) may risk political marginalization of central concerns of human and non-human survival. In the second part I discuss institutional implications, arguing for novel approaches in science collaboration, new institutional arrangements and a more central place for questions of planetary justice and earth-system risks in governance.

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