The future of humanity will depend on mastering a balancing act. The challenge will be to provide for the needs of more than ten billion people while safeguarding our planetary life-support systems. Recent scientific insights have made us better equipped than ever to strike that balance. Doing so will be our generation’s great task.
We are rapidly approaching the limits of our Earth's environment carrying capacities - rivers are running dry, greenhouse gas emissions are impacting climatic conditions and we are experiencing a mass extinction of biodiversity. At the same time, millions of people are living in conditions below what internationally can be considered as our social thresholds in relation to basic, yet critical, human needs such as hunger, literacy, poverty and political freedom. In short, we are reaching the limits of our planet.
What are social boundaries?
In 2012, Oxfam released their “doughnut”, chartering a safe and just space in which human and planetary well-being are assured. Living within the “doughnut”, we ensure all of humanity have access to basic social rights - dignity, prosperity and fulfillment - whilst remaining within the environmental limits, which must not be crossed if the earth is to remain in its current state.
Following our planetary boundaries practitioner research (Article 13, 2014), over the past 4 months Article 13 has undertaken practitioner research to explore how different organisations (public and private) around the world are attempting to address the eleven societal thresholds identified by Oxfam and how they are measuring their impact. In particular we were interested in how different organisations are addressing these thresholds at different scales - local, national, global.
We begin with the eleven social thresholds themselves, what they are, how we can measure them and why they matter.
What are the limits and why do these matter for organisations?
1. Food security:
3. Water and sanitation
4. Health care
7. Gender equality
8. Social equity
Article 13’s practitioner research is written and designed to contribute to public debate, invite feedback and showcase interesting, novel and leading practice. If you would like to contribute please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter to get alerts for our forthcoming blogs on social boundaries.
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