The Earth system is complex. There are many aspects that we do not yet understand. Nevertheless, we are the first generation with the insight of the new global risks facing humanity.
We face the evidence that our progress as the dominant species has come at a very high price. Unsustainable patterns of production, consumption, and population growth are challenging the resilience of the planet to support human activity. At the same time inequalities between and within societies remain high, leaving behind thousands of millions with unmet basic human needs and disproportionate vulnerability to global environmental change.
This situation concerns us deeply. As members of the 3rd Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability we call upon all leaders of the 21st century to exercise a collective responsibility of planetary stewardship. This means laying the foundation for a sustainable and equitable global civilization in which the entire Earth community is secure and prosperous (Fig. ).
Fig. 1 Delegates of The 3rd Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability together with members of the UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability on the stairs of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The Stockholm Memorandum, signed by Nobel Laureates (more ...)
Science indicates that we are transgressing planetary boundaries that have kept civilization safe for the past 10 000 years. Evidence is growing that human pressures are starting to overwhelm the Earth’s buffering capacity.
Humans are now the most significant driver of global change, propelling the planet into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. We can no longer exclude the possibility that our collective actions will trigger tipping points, risking abrupt and irreversible consequences for human communities and ecological systems.
We cannot continue on our current path. The time for procrastination is over. We cannot afford the luxury of denial. We must respond rationally, equipped with scientific evidence.
Our predicament can only be redressed by reconnecting human development and global sustainability, moving away from the false dichotomy that places them in opposition.
In an interconnected and constrained world, in which we have a symbiotic relationship with the planet, environmental sustainability is a precondition for poverty eradication, economic development, and social justice.
Our call is for fundamental transformation and innovation in all spheres and at all scales to stop and reverse global environmental change and move toward fair and lasting prosperity for present and future generations (Fig. ).
Nobel Laureate Mario J. Molina during the signing of the Stockholm. Memorandum at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (photo Stefan Nilsson)