The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations member states in 2015, requires “each government (to set) its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition” set out by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This formulation leaves question marks over exactly what is the global level of ambition, and how individual countries should set national targets that are consistent with it.
One way that the Planetary Boundaries framework can facilitate this process is by defining safe limits for human disturbance of a number of earth system processes – which are easily translated into global levels of ambition. These global ambitions and allocations can then be downscaled to the national level.
Furthermore, the downscaled Planetary Boundaries, in combination with consumption-based environmental accounting, can help to operationalize SDG 12 on Sustainable Consumption and Production, in particular, by serving as benchmarks for a country’s total – internal and external – environmental performance.
Continuous science-policy dialogue is required for mainstreaming the Planetary Boundaries into national policy, in support of “vertical” or cross-scale policy coherence.
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