We are the first generation facing the evidence of global change. It therefore falls upon us to change our relationship with the planet, in order to tip the scales towards a sustainable world for future generations.
The 3rd Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability – Transforming the World in an Era of Global Change, was held May 16-19, 2011 in Stockholm, Sweden. This was a small (~50) gathering of some of the world’s most renowned thinkers and experts on global sustainability and included numerous nobel laureates from many disciplines. They have produced a memorandum, shown here being signed by Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen.
The Stockholm memorandum can be downloaded here, but here is a sample:
The Earth system is complex. There are many aspects that we do not yet understand. However, we are the first generation with the insight of the new global risks facing humanity. We face the evidence that our progress as the dominant species has come at a very high price.
Unsustainable patterns of production, consumption, and population growth are challenging the resilience of the planet to support human activity. At the same time, inequalities between and within societies remain high, leaving behind billions with unmet basic human needs and disproportionate vulnerability to global environmental change.
This situation concerns us deeply. As members of the Symposium we call upon all leaders of the 21st century to exercise a collective responsibility of planetary stewardship. This means laying the foundation for a sustainable and equitable global civilization in which the entire Earth community is secure and prosperous.
Science makes clear that we are transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10,000 years. Evidence is growing that human pressures are starting to overwhelm the Earth’s buffering capacity.
Humans are now the most significant driver of global change, propelling the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. We can no longer exclude the possibility that our collective actions will trigger tipping points, risking abrupt and irreversible consequences for human communities and ecological systems.
We cannot continue on our current path. The time for procrastination is over. We cannot afford the luxury of denial. We must respond rationally, equipped with scientific evidence.
Our predicament can only be redressed by reconnecting human development and global sustainability, moving away from the false dichotomy that places them in opposition.
In an interconnected and constrained world, in which we have a symbiotic relationship with the planet, environmental sustainability is a precondition for poverty eradication, economic development, and social justice.
Our call is for fundamental transformation and innovation in all spheres and at all scales in order to stop and reverse global environmental change and move toward fair and lasting prosperity for present and future generations.