Earth System Governance Project
Earth System Governance Project

Founding Year: 2008

Staff: 4

Budget:

Ruben Zondervan (Executive Director)

A global research alliance exploring political solutions and novel, more effective governance mechanisms to cope with the current transitions in the biogeochemical systems of the planet. Developing integrated earth system governance, from the local to the global level, to ensure sustainable development of the coupled socio-ecological system that the Earth has become.  Earth system governance is the interrelated and increasingly integrated system of formal and informal rules, rule-making systems, and actor-networks at all levels of human society, that are set up to steer societies towards preventing, mitigating, and adapting to global and local environmental change and, in particular, earth system transformation. This constitutes a paradigmatic change from governing local and national environmental problems to coping with a more fundamental transformation of the earth system.  While essentially a scientific effort, is also designed to assist policy responses to the pressing problems of earth system transformation.

The Project is a core element of Future Earth, and views itself as the largest social science research network in the area of governance and global environmental change.  They run research centers in 14 countries. The Project is open to all social and natural scientists who are engaged in research on the governance of coupled socio-ecological systems.

Analytical Problems:

  • Architecture – Earth system governance is faced by questions relating to the emergence, design and effectiveness of governance systems as well as the overall integration of global, regional, national and local governance.
  • Agency – Tries to understand the agents that drive earth system governance and that need to be involved. The research gap is here especially the influence, roles and responsibilities of actors apart from national governments, such as business and non-profit organizations, the ways in which authority is granted to these agents, and how it is exercised.
  • Accountability – The more regulatory competence and authority is conferred upon larger institutions and supranational systems of governance the more we will be confronted with questions of how to ensure the accountability and democratic legitimacy of earth system governance.
  • Adaptiveness – Tries to understand and further develop the adaptiveness of earth system governance. It must be able to respond to the inherent uncertainties in human and natural systems and combine stability, to ensure long-term governance solutions, with flexibility, to react quickly to new findings and developments.
  • Allocation and access – Earth system governance, like any political activity, is about the distribution of material and immaterial values. The novel character of earth system transformation and of the new governance solutions that are being developed puts questions of allocation and access in a new light.

Global Environmental Governance Task Forces:

  • Planetary Justice – Aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars who are concerned with questions of justice on a planetary scale in the context of profound transformations of the earth system.
  • Ocean Governance – Seeks to address the daunting multi-level challenge of oceans governance in the Anthropocene.
  • Earth System Law – Explores novel legal developments in and for the Anthropocene, where the earth as a whole is now seen to have become a socio-ecological system with human societies acting as a global geophysical force capable of changing this system, and at once as stewards of earth system care.
  • Conceptual Foundations – Explores key ideas that are coming to frame international discussion of the challenge of governance in times of global environmental change and earth system transformation. It is concerned with understanding, refining and critically interrogating concepts that increasingly provide the foundation for contemporary theory and practice in the environmental domain.
  • Accountability – Explores approaches to accountability, to assess the necessity and potential for greater accountability in the system of global environmental governance that has been riddled by fragmentation and duplication of efforts, dispersed political authority and weak regulatory influence.

Projects:

Publications:

 

Earth System Governance Project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals


  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
    Calls for an end to poverty globally by 2030 and promotes increased access to basic services and social protection.
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  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
    Aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
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  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
    Aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, by reducing mortality rates and increasing access to equitable health care for men and women.
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  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
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  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
    Aims to end gender discrimination in all forms and promote equal opportunity for all women and girls in terms of education, career, and sexual/reproductive rights.
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  • SDG 6 -Clean Water and Sanitisation
    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by promoting global access to adequate sanitation and hygiene.
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  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
    Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by promoting affordable and reliable energy sources.
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  • SDG 8 -Decent Work and Economic Growth
    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
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  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
    Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.  
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  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
    Aims to achieve economic growth by reducing inequalities regarding social, economic and political opportunities and freedoms.
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  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
    Aims to promote the globalization of sustainable cities and communities in turn providing universal safe and affordable housing.
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  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
    Aims to create responsible and sustainable practices involving consumption and production through efficiently using natural resources.
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  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
    Calls to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts through global awareness, education, and integration into government policies.
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  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
    Calls to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and prevent and reduce marine pollution in order to protect ecosystems and achieve healthy oceans.
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  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
    Aims to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
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  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
    Aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Calls to reduce all forms of violence and deaths related to violence and to end abuse and exploitation
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  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
    Aims to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development by mobilizing domestic resources in order to provide support for developing countries.
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