The planetary boundaries framework: helpful for shaping human futures?

The framework of planetary boundaries is widely applied to encapsulate the idea that human transformation of the planet is in danger of breaching multiple thresholds in planetary function, leading to dangerous consequences for human futures and for wider life on Earth. It has inspired further concepts, including the “doughnut” model of a safe operating space for humanity. However, specific boundaries are difficult to identify and practically action, and some have argued that a such a boundaries framework hinders developing positive narratives for human and planetary flourishing.

Join us as we discuss this planetary topic, with ecological economist Kate Raworth, Erle Ellis, Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems and Yadvinder Malhi, Director of Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery.

Kate Raworth is an ecological economist and creator of the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries. Her internationally best-selling book, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think like a 21st Century Economist, has been translated into more than 20 languages. In 2019 she co-founded Doughnut Economics Action Lab to collaborate with changemakers worldwide – from mayors and entrepreneurs to teachers and community activists – who are turning the book’s ideas into practice. She teaches at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute and is Professor of Practice at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Erle Ellis is Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where he directs the Anthroecology Laboratory. His research investigates the ecology of human landscapes at local to global scales to inform sustainable stewardship of the biosphere in the Anthropocene. His recent work examines long-term changes in Earth’s ecology produced by human societies through the concept of anthropogenic biomes, or anthromes, a term he introduced in 2008. He is author of Anthropocene: A Very Short Introduction.

Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosystem ecologist, Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford and Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery. His work focuses on understanding the functioning of the biosphere and its interactions with global change, and on how nature recovery can be developed and enabled to support a thriving future for life on Earth.