Safe and Just Earth System Boundaries

No safe planet without justice

The Earth Commission’s first study quantifying Safe and Just Earth System Boundaries, published in Nature, shows that most of the boundaries, on a global and local scale, are already transgressed. This means that unless a timely transformation occurs, it is most likely that irreversible tipping points and widespread impacts on human well being will be unavoidable. The findings underscore the urgent need for integrated action across all Earth’s vital systems, the injustice inherent in current world targets, and the need for just transformations.


A new chapter in sustainability thinking

The Safe and Just Earth System Boundaries provide a scientific underpinning for safeguarding the global commons for all people now and into the future.

They give businesses, governments and civil society the best scientific data yet on what it means to live within the boundaries of the planet. And, for the first time, these boundaries put human needs at the centre, quantifying the conditions needed to achieve an equitable and just transition.

In the short term, the boundaries provide businesses with a chance to stay ahead of regulatory scrutiny, and meet the expectations of an increasingly conscious consumer and stakeholder base. In the long-term, they will enable them, and others, to protect the communities, economies and natural resources upon which their operations depend.

The Safe and Just Earth System Boundaries science is aligned with the recently released Science-based Targets for Nature, which build on existing science-based targets for climate, enabling companies to take holistic action on climate and nature in the face of mounting environmental and social crises.  ​​

Read some of the supporting quotes for the science here.


Our Safe and Just boundaries guide target setting, but must be realized through just transformation processes that also ensures minimum access to resources for people.

Prof. Joyeeta Gupta, Co-Chair of the Earth Commission, Professor of Environment and Development in the Global South at the University of Amsterdam

For the first time, we present quantifiable numbers to assess the state of our planet in terms of Earth System stability and resilience but also in terms of human wellbeing and equity / justice.

Prof. Johan Rockström, Earth Commission Co-Chair, lead author and Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Learn more with these resources

Download detailed explainers on each of the Earth System Boundaries:


All the graphics, videos and animations related to the boundaries can be used by anyone as long as credit is given to The Earth Commission and Global Commons Alliance.


Full text

The stability and resilience of the Earth system and human well-being are inseparably linked, yet their interdependencies are generally under-recognized; consequently, they are often treated independently.


State of the Earth

An article about the Safe and Just Boundaries in the Financial Times included this helpful summary of the scientific data.