Governing Our Planetary Emergency
The Climate Governance Commission, convened by Maja Groff (IEF member), presented its groundbreaking report, Governing Our Planetary Emergency, at an online event on 28 November 2023, just before the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference COP28.
The Commission chair and co-chairs, Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, former President of the UN General Assembly and Foreign Minister of Ecuador, and Johan Rockstrom, Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, highlighted the extensive consultation and collaborative effort that went into preparing the report, drawing on many disciplines in a systemic approach bridging science, society and values. The report provides both a broad overview of the governance crisis and practical proposals to address the problems. Comments were also provided by other Commissioners, and representatives of civil society and business.
The world faces a deepening planetary emergency—and is on a reckless path toward runaway, catastrophic climate change—having already over-shot six of nine scientifically-identified Planetary Boundaries. Collectively, we must chart a safe and sustainable path for a workable future for all of humanity.
Facing a crossroads in human history, we need novel approaches to global governance in support of unprecedented policy, private sector, and citizen-led actions, to shift course this decade and avert the worst of the emergency. Human interference in the life-supporting functions of our planet have already caused intense suffering and heightened inequality. Employing new and existing governance levers in more creative and technically robust ways — that harness the combined talents and commitments of governments and non-state actors — is necessary to meet our shared, colossal challenges. Our current challenges — although daunting — are solvable, and there are many powerful, positive trends on which to build our efforts. This Report sets forth near- and medium-term proposals for vital and substantial governance improvements across the international system. The Commission will form diverse, high-level working groups to refine its recommendations and advocate for their associated transformations.
Coverage of the report
The report starts by reviewing the climate problem-set to understand our current predicament and what the science tells us. It then discusses conceptual frameworks for international governance as a vital necessity. This includes equity, justice, and trusteeship as central principles to address our planetary emergency.
At the heart of the report are proposals for international governance innovations. This includes a "Top 10" list of near-term working proposals that could be implemented immediately:
1. Urgent Improvement of Climate COPs to Focus on Delivery, Action, and Accountability
2. Declaration of Planetary Emergency, Planetary Emergency Platform, and Broadening International Security
3. Responsible Action of Powerful Actors: “Servant Leadership”
4. Enhance International Scientific Capacity for Earth System Governance
5. Elevate Environmental Governance Within the Multilateral System and Strengthen Accountability for International Obligations
6. Near-Term International Economic and Financial Measures
7. More Innovative International Law, International Legal Institutions, and Citizen Participation in Global Governance
8. Connecting Trade and International Investment Law With Climate and Broader Ecological Priorities
9. Facilitating Business as a Force for Good through Effective Multistakeholder Commitment
10. Boosting “Next-Generation” City and Regional Alliances
These are followed by five next-generation working proposals to build out planetary governance over the next 5-10 years:
1. Establish A Global Environment Agency (GEA)
2. Establish An International Court for the Environment (ICE)
3. Adapt Environmental Law to the Anthropocene
4. Reform Bretton Woods Institutions and Enhance Multilateral Development Bank/ National Development Agency Collaboration
5. Other Key Medium-term International Institutional Reforms
The report then discusses theories of change and a strategy for climate governance innovation, and concludes with proposals toward effective and just Earth System governance. The report is extensively documented.
This report will clearly be an important input with high credibility both to COP28 and to the Summit of the Future in 2024.
Last updated 28 November 2023