For over 20 years, the International Geosphere‐Biosphere Programme has assembled overwhelming evidence of the unprecedented scale of changes to Earth's most important biological, chemical and physical, processes.
The pace of change has accelerated since the 1950s. A growing population, exponential resource use and rapid industrialisation are responsible for most of the global changes and strongly influence others. The planet´s human population is set to hit nine billion by 2050. The world´s decision makers require information urgently on how the Earth´s social, ecological and physical systems are linked, how they are changing and what sustainable solutions can be applied.
The reason for the urgent need for this new knowledge is threefold : humans are now a prime driver of change on the planet; population growth is set to continue upwards putting increasin g pressure on food, energy and water supplies; and, there is evidence that society is pushing the planet´s climate and other critical physical processes towards thresholds.
If these thresholds are crossed, society risks planetary‐scale and regional‐scale state changes with a potential to cause large‐scale economic and ecological disruptions and unprecedented humanitarian challenges.
In the next ten years, IGBP, working with our partners, will provide the knowledge, expertise and coordination to identify and assess risks posed to society and ecosystems by major changes in the Earth´s biological, chemical and physical cycles and processes, and communicate this to society.
IGBP will seek deeper understanding of the links and feedbacks between Earth-system processes, with a focus on socio‐economic forcings. IGBP will actively promote a new era of inter‐ and trans‐disciplinary research and will work with relevant partners to support solutions to societal transformation.
IGBP will work with international partners and funding agencies to develop research priorities and co‐design projects and initiatives. IGBP will help coordinate and deliver the Earth‐system observation systems required for greater understanding.
IGBP will work to ensure Earth‐system data is stored effectively and that data is freely available.
Through IGBP’s expertise, coordination and communication, the scientific community has already made substantial progress in many of these areas, particularly on the fundamental research required to understand the Earth system. The new vision provides a step process to allow basic research to flow through to applied research, from science through to policy.
Transformation in an era of rapid global change
How can new and existing global‐change research findings most effectively inform, catalyse and support appropriate actions at all governance scales, local, national, regional and global?
IGBP updated its vision in 2010. IGBP undertook this effort to take account of new priorities in Earth system research. In particular, IGBP's sponsor the International Council for Science (ICSU) is developing a new vision for international research. The focus of this new vision is a move towards "global sustainability" research.
IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.