Policy design for the Anthropocene
Journal article, 2019

Today, more than ever, ‘Spaceship Earth’ is an apt metaphor as we chart the boundaries for a safe planet1. Social scientists both analyse why society courts disaster by approaching or even overstepping these boundaries and try to design suitable policies to avoid these perils. Because the threats of transgressing planetary boundaries are global, long-run, uncertain and interconnected, they must be analysed together to avoid conflicts and take advantage of synergies. To obtain policies that are effective at both international and local levels requires careful analysis of the underlying mechanisms across scientific disciplines and approaches, and must take politics into account. In this Perspective, we examine the complexities of designing policies that can keep Earth within the biophysical limits favourable to human life.


Thomas Sterner

University of Gothenburg

Edward B. Barbier

Colorado State University

Ian Bateman

University of Exeter

Inge van den Bijgaart

University of Gothenburg

Anne Sophie Crépin

Stockholm University

The Royal Swedish Academy of Science

Ottmar Edenhofer

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)

Technische Universität Berlin

Carolyn Fischer

Resources For The Future

Wolfgang Habla

Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung GmbH

John Hassler

University of Gothenburg

Stockholm University

Olof Johansson-Stenman

University of Gothenburg

Andreas Lange

University of Hamburg

Stephen Polasky

University of Minnesota

Johan Rockström

Stockholm University

Henrik G. Smith

Lund University

Will Steffen

Stockholm University

Australian National University

Gernot Wagner

Harvard University

James E. Wilen

University of California

Francisco Alpizar

Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza

Christian Azar

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Donna Carless

University of Exeter

Carlos Chávez

University of Talca

Jessica Coria

University of Gothenburg

Gustav Engström

The Royal Swedish Academy of Science

Sverker C. Jagers

University of Gothenburg

Gunnar Köhlin

University of Gothenburg

Åsa Löfgren

University of Gothenburg

Håkan Pleijel

University of Gothenburg

Amanda Robinson

University of Exeter

Nature Sustainability

23989629 (eISSN)

Vol. 2 1 14-21

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified



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