Workshop #8

Systemic views on Planetary Boundaries: Interactions across boundaries, scales and SDGs

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requests that “each government set[s] its own national targets, guided by the global level of ambition”. The Planetary Boundaries (PBs) specify the global environmental level of ambition within which the aggregate sum of all national “contributions”, i.e. resource use, emissions or environmental pressures, must remain; one example being the 2° climate target. With that, the (downscaled) PBs serve as benchmarks for national performance and inform vertical (global-regional-national), horizontal (cross-sectoral) and temporal (short & long term) policy coherence. To support sustainability transitions (and narratives), the environmental PBs need to be integrated with development goals and targets, as specified in the SDGs. This workshop discusses the role that Planetary Boundaries and related opportunities within the safe operating space play in integrated SDG implementation, helping to operationalize their universality principle, e.g. “in, by and with Germany”.


Holger Hoff, PIK / SEI


Detlef van Vuuren, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Sander van der Leeuw, Santa Fe Institute
Guido Schmidt-Traub, SDSN network
Falk Schmidt, IASS, National/German SDG Science Platform

Guiding Questions

  • What are the key interlinkages, synergies and trade-offs among the different PBs, how do they affect Earth system dynamics, where are critical hotspots and bright spots?
  • How are the PBs reflected in the 2030 Agenda and in the SDGs?
  • What are the potential trade-offs between environment-oriented and development-oriented goals and targets, and how can these be reconciled to stay within a safe and just operating space?
  • How can top-down, bottom-up, long-term and short-term sustainability criteria be integrated?
  • How can (downscaled) PBs inform sustainable consumption and production?