Global distributive justice and systemic transformations key to planetary stability


Report / Paper

Published 2022-11-10

In a new study an international team of scientists from the Earth Commission investigates the Earth system impacts of escaping poverty and achieving a dignified life for all.

Key messages from the study:

  • Redistributing resources and transforming society are key to ensuring universal access to basic needs while staying within Earth’s limits. 
  • These transformations include redistribution and improvements to water, food, infrastructure and energy provisioning systems. 
  • The analysis also showed that these pressures, arising from the poorest third of humanity achieving adequate resource access, equalled the pressures caused by the wealthiest 1-4%. 
  • The paper provides scientific evidence for concluding that in order to achieve societal and environmental goals, it is the wealthy (who appropriate the bulk of Earth’s resources and ecosystems – not those escaping poverty) who need to undergo transformative change. 
  • The authors therefore link the ‘Great Acceleration’ of rapid increases in human-driven environmental impacts with a ‘Great Inequality’

“Our research is important because many people assume that meeting the needs of the poorest is possible without major redistributions and transformations in society.” – Lead author, Crelis Rammelt, Environmental Geography and Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam and Earth Commission expert.

The research was inspired by discussions on potential trade-offs between achieving social and environmental goals.

Published in the journal Nature Sustainability

Published in the journal Nature Sustainability

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