What can be done? We need three major steps to move from incremental to exponential action.
First, the scientific community needs urgently to explore targets and set scientific boundaries for the entire Earth system, beyond those set to combat climate change. As part of a new global commons alliance, the first Earth Commission, to be announced later this year, will do just that.
Second, we need to go beyond GDP as a measure of economic and social wellbeing. All countries should follow the lead of countries such as Bhutan and now New Zealand and publish well-being budgets to eventually replace budgets slavishly following GDP.
And, finally, we need to take full advantage of 2020, a super-year for international policy on the environment, with three big milestones in the journey to build global co-operation. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity will meet to agree new targets. On climate, nations must submit more ambitious targets for the Paris agreement. And a UN ocean summit may reshape marine policy for the next generation.
This leads to an intriguing possibility. In 2020, the UN will 75 years old. Following the lead of the UK and Ireland, is it now time for the UN to declare a climate and nature emergency?
The next decade must bring the fastest economic transition in history to prosperity that protects the planet. This is necessary, achievable and desirable. But the work must start now.
For more information, visit thegef.org