Planetary Boundaries need Global Governance


PBI recently held a meeting in London to consult legal experts and other stakeholders about what we should be doing in the field of global governance, especially of course on global governance of planetary boundaries issues.

Different views were put forward.  Environmental questions are not unique in requiring a much greater degree of global governance than exists it present.  The continuing chaos in financial markets and institutions suggests the need for radical reform there too.  Perhaps we should see planetary boundaries issues as part of a larger set of global questions in need of global governance solutions.

For those concerned with the environment, there is an issue of whether “planetary boundaries” is the best concept through which to make progress in using and changing laws.  Perhaps “ecological integrity” or “earth system integrity” would be more useful, as that idea already has some legal standing.

If we were to form some sort of coalition with other organisations, what should its targets be, in between now and the long-run aim of having legal and institutional arrangements which recognise the reality of the planet’s boundaries?  Should we put a lot of emphasis on try to get a small number of governments on board, given that these issues are likely to be sorted out through intergovernmental negotiations?  Or perhaps “global” is a new level which can’t be built simply from putting national governments together.  Are there existing international bodies which might be given a new lease of life, like the UN Trusteeship Council, or have their remit expanded, like the UN Environment Programme?  And is there any mileage in the new High Level Political Forum?

Important issues, but we have no conclusions to report yet.  The meeting is to be followed up by some document drafting and further discussion.  We hope in the Autumn to have a plan of action for the next stage – watch the PBI website and the PBI on Twitter for updates.


Victor Anderson


Follow on Twitter: @vicanderso


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