Workshop #3

Building on experience: Lessons learned from initial operationalizations

The Planetary Boundaries concept (and the safe operating space) have been applied at different political levels, including regional (EU: European Commission & European Environment Agency), national (Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, South Africa) and local levels (municipalities in South Africa and Chinese provinces). The concept has been used for different purposes: e.g. as part of environmental communications and outreach, as a benchmark for measuring environmental performance, and to set social development goals in relation to environmental goals. This workshop focuses on lessons learned from these initial experiences – on barriers to and requirements for operationalization, necessary improvements to the concept, and benefits of using the concept. It presents and discusses different cases of planetary boundaries concept application.


Jörg Mayer-Ries, BMUB / IASS


Andreas Hauser, FOEN
Hy Dao, UNEP-GRID / University of Geneva
John Dearing and Gregory Cooper, University of Southhampton
Megan Cole, Oxford University

Guiding Questions

  • What are the main lessons learned from the discussed operationalization cases a) in the academic sphere b) in the transfer/communication to societal/economic/political actors c) in policy making?
  • What have been the main challenges for operationalization, in terms of physical, spatial, temporal, economic or political dimensions and in making boundaries nationally, regionally or locally operable?
  • What are core messages for policymakers? And what are potential next steps, both politically and academically?