• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

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  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .
Published: March 10, 2011

Planetary boundaries and the urgent need for societal transformations

Press release |
IGBP, the International Council for Science and the International Human Dimensions Programme co-sponsored a side event at the UN's Rio +20 Prep Committee on 8 March 2011, United Nations, New York.
International Council for Science (ICSU)
International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) and United Nations University (UNU)
International Geosphere - Biosphere Programme (IGBP)

Side Event at 2nd Meeting of the UNCSD Preparatory Committee



Science In Support Of Rio 2012

8 MARCH 2011, 1:15 - 2:45 PM

Conference Room: 6


Humanity has reached a point in history where continued development is jeopardized because the basis of development—the natural functioning of the Earth system —is at risk. Substantial societal transformation is urgently required to achieve a sustainable future.


MODERATOR:   Andrew Revkin, New York Times

Professor Sybil Seitzinger, Executive Director, International Geosphere-Biosphere Progamme  
Presentation (Powerpoint 11.2 MB)

Dr. Deborah S. Rogers, International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) on Global Environmental Change
Presentation (PDF1.6MB)

Dr Gisbert Glaser, Senior Science Policy Advisor, International Council for Science, ICSU
Presentation (Powerpoint 0.2 Mb)

The Side event will promote the major international conference,  Planet Under Pressure: new knowledge towards solutions. 26-29 March 2012, London.



New scientific knowledge indicates that humanity has reached a point in history where continued development is jeopardized because the basis of development—the natural functioning of the Earth system—is at risk. Substantial societal transformation is urgently required to achieve a sustainable future. In March 2012, just prior to the UNCSD (Rio+20) conference on sustainable development, the international global-change programmes will hold a major international science conference, Planet Under Pressure: New Knowledge Towards Solutions. The conference will feature speakers and discussions on a range of topics related to planetary boundaries and societal transitions towards sustainability.

This side event will introduce the Planet Under Pressure conference, providing scientific leadership on issues of paramount importance to the UNCSD Rio +20 planning process: the green economy and sustainable development.

Planetary Risks

Civilisation has developed within the confines of Earth’s natural biological, physical and chemical systems. But since 1950, human production and consumption has accelerated to a point that it is pushing components of the Earth system beyond natural boundaries. There is an urgent need for all societies to confront these risks and develop solutions for planetary stewardship.
Green Economy

A “Green Economy” is often cited as one solution to the joint problems of environmental change and the need for development. But what exactly does Green Economy mean? While the emphasis to date has been on the sustainable use of economic and natural resources, there are many social, political and ethical considerations that must be addressed before societies can be socially as well as economically stable and sustainable over the long term. Major societal transformations are needed to achieve the goal of a Green Economy.

Science and Policy

How can scientists and policy-makers work together to develop the best solutions for both human well-being and environmental sustainability? What form might some of these solutions take? To promote a green global economy and improved institutional framework for sustainable development, new working relationships, policies and institutions must be developed and supported.
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IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.

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