PRESS RELEASE. Monday, March 26, 2012
Mr. Owen Gaffney, +46 86739556, +46 730208418, email@example.com
Ms. Anne Kathrin Raab, +44 7921609742, +49 228 815 0616, firstname.lastname@example.org
Planet under Pressure organizers and Policy Brief authors are available for interviews. The
Policy Briefs are accessible online and corresponding scientific White Papers are published in
a special open issue of the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.
Science for Policy: Recommendations for
Navigating the Anthropocene
Nine Policy Briefs to help inform policy agenda in next decade
International science community has published a series of Policy Briefs for the United
Nations Rio+20 conference in June 2012.
“Rio+20 is an opportunity for progress. We commissioned these nine briefs to sum-
marise scientific findings relevant to the Rio+20 agenda: the green economy and sus-
tainable development.” says Nobel Laureate Professor Elinor Ostrom, the conference
chief scientific advisor. “They cover a variety of topics, but a key feature of all briefs
is the need for an interconnected approach to addressing our global challenges.”
The final four briefs for the series, released at the London Planet Under Pressure
conference today, focus on energy security, green economy, health and wellbeing.
Five Policy Briefs, published in late 2011, deal with interconnected risks and solu-
tions, international governance for sustainable development, water security, food
security and biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Energy security and global environmental change
Global energy systems play a key role in the transformation to sustainability. “For a
sustainable future, by 2050, between 60 and 80% of the world’s primary energy sup-
ply must come from low-carbon energy sources, either non-combustible renewables,
nuclear power, hydropower, possibly bio-energy, and fossil fuels and bio-energy with
carbon capture and storage. Currently, however, more than 80% of the energy
comes from unabated fossil fuels” says one of the policy brief lead author Professor
Detlef van Vuuren, Utrecht University.
Challenges include providing energy access for the poor, reducing environmental im-
pacts of energy use while ensuring energy security. “Addressing these challenges si-
multaneously will require a fundamental transformation of the energy system and
organising the governance systems that could support such a transformation,” says
co-lead author Professor Keywan Riahi, IIASA.
“This requires a long-term vision and associated short-term targets including more
integrated policy-making, more effective and stronger policy incentives, and new,
transparent decision-making that builds acceptance for major transformational
changes in the energy systems at all levels.” says co-lead author Professor Nebojsa
Nakicenovic, TU Wien and IIASA.
Pathways towards a Green Economy
A successful green economy will require more than technological innovation, it will
need a societal transformation process, according to the policy brief on the green
economy. Societies, the authors argue, need to draw up a new global social contract.
“We need to establish a common set of rules for the global economic system based
on sustainability and wellbeing. We need new economic measures of progress be-
yond GDP,” said lead author Professor Anantha Duraiappah, Executive Director of
the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP).
“We must move from GDP per capita to inclusive wealth, which measures the pro-
ductive base of a country while keeping track of natural, social, human and produced
capital,” he added.
The brief suggests the international scientific community should provide recommen-
dations to redesign trade rules, financial flows and investment within the context of
planetary boundaries and the wellbeing of all people. This includes the need to go
beyond simply measuring the economic output or income of countries and to com-
pute inclusive wealth accounts as a new macroeconomic indicator to guide economic
development towards sustainability.
Human wellbeing as key for a more sustainable future
In times of unprecedented food, energy, economic and security crises, there is a
strong need for urgent, innovative solutions on a global scale to enhance human
wellbeing. The wellbeing policy brief sets out key messages to guide humanity on the
road to a more sustainable socioeconomic and ecological future.
“Wellbeing goes beyond simple material prosperity and cannot be measured by in-
come,” explains lead author Professor Anantha Duraiappah, Executive Director,
IHDP. “It includes notions of security, spiritual health, personal freedom, and the
surety to feel well - both physically and emotionally.”
To improve worldwide human wellbeing, reducing absolute poverty is essential, but
not sufficient. Reducing inequality is a crucial step towards wellbeing. This will re-
quire a paradigm shift: away from economic growth, competitiveness and personal
gain towards shared wellbeing.
Health in a changing natural environment
"Human health is an important but under-recognised goal of sustainable develop-
ment. We will bear the burden of ill health from global environmental changes well
before we reach any obvious biophysical ‘tipping point’ in our Earth Systems. We al-
ready have enough evidence to show that we can choose environmental policies,
strategies and technologies that benefit health and benefit the environment - locally
and globally." states lead author Dr. Sari Korvats, London School of Hygiene and
The original Rio Declaration stated that all people are "entitled to a healthy and pro-
ductive life in harmony with nature". We know that health burdens from environ-
mental pollution and environmental degradation are unequally distributed - and
these inequalities are likely to get worse and not better, even with economic devel-
Eating less animal products, switching to active transport, providing clean energy,
will all protect health and ensure progress towards sustainable development. Moni-
toring human health indicators will enable us to evaluate progress towards sustain-
All nine Policy Briefs will be officially presented by a high-level scientific panel mod-
erated by Georgios Kostakos, Deputy Director of the UN Secretary General’s Global
Sustainability Panel, at the Planet Under Pressure conference, Monday, March 26,
2012, 1.00-1.40pm British Summer Time, Plenary Hall.
A parallel suite of scientific white papers is published in a special issue of the Journal
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability Volume 4, Issue 1 – selected pp. 1-158
Note to Editors
The research discussed in the press release, the conclusions drawn and the opinions
offered are those of individual speakers or research teams at the Planet Under Pres-
The Anthropocene as a new geological epoch was first proposed in 2000 by Dutch
Nobel Laureate Professor Paul Crutzen and US academic Professor Eugene Stoermer
(1934-2012). Crutzen, Stoermer and others argued that the vast human enterprise
now rivals the great geological forces of nature.
More information about Planet under Pressure Conference
The international science conference will be the biggest gathering of global environ-
mental change specialists in advance of the United Nations Rio+20 Summit: 2,500
scientists, policymakers, industry and media representatives will meet to hear the
latest research findings on the state of the planet and discuss concepts for planetary
stewardship and societal and economic transformation towards global sustainability.
More information on the web: http://www.planetunderpressure2012.net/
Follow the conference via
Live web streaming, daily news show and live audio feeds:
Planet under Pressure Conference Organizers
International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme
IGBP provides essential international scientific leadership and knowledge of the
Earth system to help guide society onto a sustainable pathway during rapid global
By linking biology, ecology and social sciences, DIVERSITAS produces socially relevant
new knowledge to support sustainable use of biodiversity.
International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change
IHDP provides international leadership in framing, developing and integrating social
science research on global environmental change, and promotes key findings of this
research to help address these challenges.
World Climate Research Programme
WCRP improves climate predictions and our understanding of human influence on
climate through observations and modelling of the Earth system and the policy-
relevant assessment of climate conditions.
Earth System Science Partnership
ESSP is a partnership of the four international global change programmes. It is an in-
tegrated study of the Earth System, the ways that it is changing, and the implications
for global and regional sustainability.
International Council for Science, scientific sponsor of the conference
ICSU is a non-governmental body with a global membership of national scientific
bodies (120 Members, representing 140 countries) and International Scientific Un-
ions (31 Members). Its mission is to strengthen international science for the benefit
of society. www.icsu.org