Earth Systems Governance

As I mentioned yesterday, my current goal to to try to write a short blog every day with quotes or reflection on something that has struck me as useful to my research, or just plain interesting.

Today I have been reading up on the Earth System Governance literature. I am VERY inspired by these academics and the work they are doing (check out their project website). Indeed, I take inspiration from them in terms of how to re-arrange the architecture of food governance to support sustainable food systems.

I will quote from Biermann’s work.

He writes:

Earth system governance builds on the assumption that humankind, having become inadvertently an agent in the earth system over the last 200 years, has now to develop the governing mechanisms to purposefully steer its own agency. Earth system governance is of course not about “governing the earth”, or about managing the entire process of planetary evolution. Earth system governance is concerned with the human impact on planetary systems. It is about the societal steering of human activities with regard to the long-term stability of geobiophysical systems. But the latter is non-trivial: What precisely are the goals of earth system governance? In what concrete directions should human agency develop? What are the normative assumptions that underlie earth system governance?

(Biermann 2012:5).

I think the questions that he raises serve to illustrate the fundamentally political nature of the issues we are grappling with when we evoke terms like “sustainability” or phrases like “feeding 9 billion by 2050”.

Reference:  Biermann, Frank 2012, “Planetary boundaries and earth system governance: Exploring the links.” Ecological Economics 81: 4-.9 doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2012.02.016

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