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New legal protection can secure justice for the planet

It is time to put the planet on a new legal footing and stop critical Earth systems from being destroyed. That’s according to some of the world’s leading legal, political and Earth system scientists, who today called for the safeguarding of planetary commons to be part of a “new law and governance approach”.

The scientists want an expansion of what we know as the global commons, our shared natural resources – like the high seas and the atmosphere, to include the planetary commons and the legal protection of ‘biophysical systems that regulate planetary resilience beyond and across national boundaries’ – like forests and carbon sinks.

“We believe the planetary commons have the potential to articulate and create effective stewardship obligations for nation states worldwide through Earth system governance aimed at restoring and strengthening planetary resilience and promoting justice. However, since these commons are often located within sovereign territories, such stewardship obligations must also meet some clear justice criteria,” says social scientist and author Joyeeta Gupta.

The proposals, published following almost two years of research, make the case for a new form of Earth system governance that can transcend national borders.

“Our existing global environmental law and governance framework is unable to address the planetary crisis and keep us from crossing planetary boundaries. This is why we urgently need planetary commons as a new law and governance approach that can safeguard critical Earth system regulating functions more effectively,” says author of the paper Louis Kotzé, Professor of Law at North-West University in South Africa.

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Written By

Susan is the co-founder of Innovators Magazine and a consultant for OnePoint5Media. Susan is also a member of the UNFCCC-led Resilience Frontiers Nexus group and the Chair of the APOPO Foundation UK board.


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