The planetary commons: A new paradigm for safeguarding Earth-regulating systems in the Anthropocene

Johan Rockström, Louis Kotzé, Svetlana Milutinović, Frank Biermann, Victor Brovkin, Jonathan Donges, Jonas Ebbesson, Duncan French, Joyeeta Gupta, Rakhyun Kim, Timothy Lenton, Dominic Lenzi, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Barbara Neumann, Fabian Schuppert, Ricarda Winkelmann, Klaus Bosselmann, Carl Folke*, Wolfgang Lucht, David SchlosbergKatherine Richardson, Will Steffen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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The Anthropocene signifies the start of a no-analogue trajectory of the Earth system that is fundamentally different from the Holocene. This new trajectory is characterized by rising risks of triggering irreversible and unmanageable shifts in Earth system functioning. We urgently need a new global approach to safeguard critical Earth system regulating functions more effectively and comprehensively. The global commons framework is the closest example of an existing approach with the aim of governing biophysical systems on Earth upon which the world collectively depends. Derived during stable Holocene conditions, the global commons framework must now evolve in the light of new Anthropocene dynamics. This requires a fundamental shift from a focus only on governing shared resources beyond national jurisdiction, to one that secures critical functions of the Earth system irrespective of national boundaries. We propose a new framework-the planetary commons-which differs from the global commons framework by including not only globally shared geographic regions but also critical biophysical systems that regulate the resilience and state, and therefore livability, on Earth. The new planetary commons should articulate and create comprehensive stewardship obligations through Earth system governance aimed at restoring and strengthening planetary resilience and justice.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2301531121
Pages (from-to)e2301531121
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2024


  • Anthropocene
  • Earth system governance
  • global commons
  • international law
  • planetary boundaries


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