Human Progress within Planetary Guardrails: a Contribution to the SDG Debate‏

WBGU has recently published a policy paper which advocates the inclusion of environmental goals (including climate change) into the catalogue of the new Sustainable development goals.
The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals are to be superseded next year by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are as a result currently dominating debates on development policy worldwide. A policy paper on this subject was presented to the German Federal Government. The WBGU recommends the inclusion of a comprehensive environmental goal entitled ‘safeguarding Earth system services’ in the catalogue of new sustainable development goals (SDGs). The aim of this goal is to bring development paths in line with ecological boundaries, so that human progress can be ensured. In order to operationalize this goal, the WBGU recommends integrating six targets to protect the climate, the soils and biological diversity:

  • limit global warming to 2°C – to avoid irreversible climatic consequences.
  • limit ocean acidification to 0.2 pH units – to keep the marine environment intact.
  • stop the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services – to protect the natural life-support systems.
  • stop land and soil degradation – in order not to jeopardize global food production.
  • limit the risks posed by long-lived and harmful anthropogenic substances (such as mercury and plastic waste) – since the related negative effects are difficult to reverse.
  • stop the loss of phosphorus – since this element is the limiting factor in agriculture.
  • September will see the beginning of the intergovernmental negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals. The plan is for them to be adopted by the UN General Assembly in autumn 2015.

The policy paper is available (in English and German) as a PDF file:
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