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Planetary boundaries:
an EEA perspective
The speech for this presentation can be viewed in the slide notes below.

Dr Hans...
The European Environment Agency

The European Environment Agency:

 an independent provider of information,
assessments a...
Global context
Our development model appears successful...


The proportion of people living in
extreme poverty has been halved
at the g...
...but ‘development’ has damaged the environment
 Global emissions of carbon
dioxide (CO2) have increased by
more than 46...
Two possible conclusions

 Most MDGs have been moderately to rather successful.
– Clear goals work
– Broad political supp...
Two possible conclusions

 Most MDGs have been moderately to rather successful.
– Clear goals work
– Broad political supp...
The twin challenge

Source: UNEP (2012) - GEO5
The twin challenge

Within
environmental
limits
‘good life’

Source: UNEP (2012) - GEO5
Continued economic growth
Past and projected global economic output (2005 USD PPP), 1996–2050

Note: gross domestic
produc...
Continued economic growth
Middle class population by world regions - 2009, 2020 and 2030
3500

3000

Million

2500

2000

...
Resource use

Note: *projection

Source: SERI (2013) - SERI Global Material Flows Database.
EU Policy context

Europe 2020 Strategy
 Smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

 Roadmap for a resource efficient Eur...
Living within ecological limits
ECOSYSTEMS
SOCIO-TECHNICAL SYSTEMS
providing social needs and value
Policy

Industry
Energ...
Material use decoupling: EU statistics
EU-15

EU-15: AT, BE, DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, GR, IE, IT, LU, NL, PT, SE, UK

Source: E...
Closing the cycle?

Efficiency throughout
life cycle
Closing the cycle?

Waste = resource

Limit input of resources
Substitute scarce resources
Ecosystem resilience must be explicitly targeted
Efficiency alone does not make ecosystems resilient

Resource efficiency

Ecosystem resilience

Greenhouse gas emissions

...
Efficiency gains are not sufficient on their own

Neither technology shifts
Efficiency gains are not sufficient on their own

Neither technology shifts

Need for systemic approach
The need for transitions

Persistent problems demand fundamental solutions
– Regular policy offers no solutions
– Market f...
Systems thinking
Solution for persistent problems?

→ fundamental systemic changes are required
Socio-technical systems (R...
System innovation

Source: UNEP (2011)
Targets are needed for the 2020-2050 period
Nessesary but problematic agenda!
 Poor understanding of key concepts:
– Old concept/discourse,
– Planetary boundaries, s...
EEA’s agenda for the next 5 years
 Systemic analysis in light of transitions.
 Co-creation of the necessary knowledge ba...
Thank you
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Planetary boundaries: an EEA perspective

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This presentation was delivered at an international workshop meeting of the European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils (EEAC) titled ‘Safe operating space – state and perspectives as a concept for national policy’. The workshop discussed how the concept of ecological or planetary boundaries/ safe operating space (PB/SOS), which derives from the principle of sustainability, could and should possibly play a relevant role in environmental policy programmes in future political frameworks.

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Planetary boundaries: an EEA perspective

  1. 1. Planetary boundaries: an EEA perspective The speech for this presentation can be viewed in the slide notes below. Dr Hans Bruyninckx Executive Director, European Environment Agency Brussels, 23 January 2014, EEAC Workshop
  2. 2. The European Environment Agency The European Environment Agency:  an independent provider of information, assessments and knowledge  builds bridges between science and policy  depends upon strong networks to carry out its work  33 member countries, plus 6 cooperating countries … and publishes a report on state of, trends in and prospects for the environment in Europe every five years (SOER)
  3. 3. Global context
  4. 4. Our development model appears successful...  The proportion of people living in extreme poverty has been halved at the global level.  The hunger reduction target is within reach.  Over 2 billion people gained access to improved sources of drinking water since 1990.  The proportion of slum dwellers in the cities and metropolises of the developing world is declining.
  5. 5. ...but ‘development’ has damaged the environment  Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by more than 46 per cent since 1990.  Nearly one third of marine fish stocks have been over-exploited.  Many species are at risk of extinction, despite an increase in protected areas.  Decline of ecosystems accross the board.
  6. 6. Two possible conclusions  Most MDGs have been moderately to rather successful. – Clear goals work – Broad political support is essential – Transparent monitoring and reporting have an impact  The MDG indicators illustrate the lack of ‘sustainability’ of the successes. – Lack of clear and especially of comprehensive environmental objectives – Lack of linkages between environmental goals and socio-economic goals – Lack of insights into the socio-economic driving forces behind resource and environmental degradation
  7. 7. Two possible conclusions  Most MDGs have been moderately to rather successful. – Clear goals work – Broad political support is essential – Transparent monitoring and reporting have an impact  The MDG indicators illustrate the lack of ‘sustainability’ of the successes. – Lack of clear and especially of comprehensive environmental objectives – Lack of linkages between environmental goals and socio-economic goals – Lack of insights into the socio-economic driving forces behind resource and environmental degradation Resource use and ecosystem resilience under conditions of globalisation and limited natural resources
  8. 8. The twin challenge Source: UNEP (2012) - GEO5
  9. 9. The twin challenge Within environmental limits ‘good life’ Source: UNEP (2012) - GEO5
  10. 10. Continued economic growth Past and projected global economic output (2005 USD PPP), 1996–2050 Note: gross domestic product expressed in billion 2005 US dollars at purchasing power parity Source: OECD (2013) - All Statistics - OECD iLibrary
  11. 11. Continued economic growth Middle class population by world regions - 2009, 2020 and 2030 3500 3000 Million 2500 2000 2009 2020 1500 2030 1000 500 0 North America Source: Kharas (2010) EuropeCentral and South America Pacific Sub-Saharan Africa East and North Africa Asia Middle
  12. 12. Resource use Note: *projection Source: SERI (2013) - SERI Global Material Flows Database.
  13. 13. EU Policy context Europe 2020 Strategy  Smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.  Roadmap for a resource efficient Europe (one of seven flagship initiatives). 7th EAP  Protect nature and strengthen ecological resilience.  Boost sustainable resource-efficient low-carbon growth.  Effectively address environment-related threats to health.
  14. 14. Living within ecological limits ECOSYSTEMS SOCIO-TECHNICAL SYSTEMS providing social needs and value Policy Industry Energy system Food system system Ecosystem services Values system system Mobility system Science Technology Environmental externalities Market
  15. 15. Material use decoupling: EU statistics EU-15 EU-15: AT, BE, DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, GR, IE, IT, LU, NL, PT, SE, UK Source: EEA (2012) - Material resources and waste, 2012 update EU-12 EU-12: BG, CY, CZ, EE, HU, LT, LV, MT, PL, SI, SK, RO
  16. 16. Closing the cycle? Efficiency throughout life cycle
  17. 17. Closing the cycle? Waste = resource Limit input of resources Substitute scarce resources
  18. 18. Ecosystem resilience must be explicitly targeted
  19. 19. Efficiency alone does not make ecosystems resilient Resource efficiency Ecosystem resilience Greenhouse gas emissions Global climate change Transboundary air pollution Marine biodiversity Air pollution Air quality in urban areas Maritime transport emissions Terrestrial biodiversity Water use Water status Decoupling / recycling Ecological footprint Key: improving stable /mixed progress deteriorating
  20. 20. Efficiency gains are not sufficient on their own Neither technology shifts
  21. 21. Efficiency gains are not sufficient on their own Neither technology shifts Need for systemic approach
  22. 22. The need for transitions Persistent problems demand fundamental solutions – Regular policy offers no solutions – Market forces are not sufficient – Incrementalism is not sufficient → Transitions = fundamental shifts in the systems that fulfil societal needs, through profound changes in dominant structures, practices, technologies, policies, lifestyles, thinking …
  23. 23. Systems thinking Solution for persistent problems? → fundamental systemic changes are required Socio-technical systems (Rotmans & Loorbach 2010) – consist of: • Structure: material infrastructure, technology, institutions, economic reality • Culture: dominant images, values, paradigms • Practices: routines, ‘normal’ system behaviour – are linked to societal functions – present certain dysfunctions Fundamental changes at systemic level: ‘system innovation’
  24. 24. System innovation Source: UNEP (2011)
  25. 25. Targets are needed for the 2020-2050 period
  26. 26. Nessesary but problematic agenda!  Poor understanding of key concepts: – Old concept/discourse, – Planetary boundaries, safe operating space, – Popular translations: footprint, Earth Overshoot Day, there is no planet B, we will need three planets if, … All remain abstract and hard to concretise.  Hardly any resonance in political sphere.  Wrestling with the growth concept.  What are boundary conditions for green growth, blue growth?  Hard to move from technological efficiency paradigm to a transitions paradigm.
  27. 27. EEA’s agenda for the next 5 years  Systemic analysis in light of transitions.  Co-creation of the necessary knowledge base.  Half-way point idea.  Specific attention. – Ecosystem and natural resource accounting (JRC, ESTAT, RTD, …) – Circular economy, materials transition, resource efficiency  Developing meaningful metrics and methods of analysis (7EAP evaluation, beyond GDP process; SOER 2020).
  28. 28. Thank you

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