How can the world of policy and science respond to the latest advancements in science? In the Anthropocene, we can no longer avoid catastrophic tipping points; we need a transition to a world within safe operating spaces of planetary boundaries. The United Nations transformed the Millennium Development Goals into the Sustainable Development Goals in 2012-2015. There are three conventional choices in our future: that the rich, industrialized world enjoyed economic growth at the expense of the earth system and now poor, developing countries must slow their growth; that moving towards sustainability is a burden-sharing pathway and we must contract and converge; and that tipping points may be incorrect and we can hope for the best. Rather than relying on convention, we must redefine sustainable development as a trajectory for growth and human well-being within a stable Earth system, and use science to increasingly connect the policy domain with the six broad goals of livelihoods which include food security, water, and clean energy, among others. Professor Rockström outlines the (at the time of the course only proposed) 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
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