Two important readings


February 2020 – a 53 page comprehensive report with a range of articles by scholars and researchers from many countries and disciplines. Published by Future Earth, is a risks analysis based on a survey of 222 global sustainability experts. The survey identifies five global risks —climate change, extreme weather, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, food crises, and water crises — as the most severe in terms of impact. Climate change, extreme weather, biodiversity loss, and water crises – were the most likely to occur. More than one-third (82) of those surveyed underlined the threat of cascading crises with one worsening another “in ways that might cascade to create global systemic collapse. The full report can be downloaded free.


Seventeen global Sustainable Development Goals were agreed by the UN in 2015, with the ambition to achieve them by 2030. Our focus is the apparent conflict between the three ‘environmental’ goals (SDGs 13, 14 and 15) and the 14 ‘socio-economic’ goals. Griggs et al. (2013) pointed out the need to give priority to the environmental goals: ‘so that today’s advances in development are not lost as our planet ceases to function for the benefit of a global population’. Efforts to achieve the 14 socio-economic goals in the coming decade could increase the human ecological footprint, and thereby intensify the pressure on planetary boundaries (Rockström et al., 2009) moving the world further away from the three environmental SDGs.

We study this conflict by creating a relatively simple desk-top model, Earth3, to analyse scenarios for world development towards 2050. This practical tool is a first attempt at treating all SDGs and the planetary constraints within one quantitative framework.