Policy design for the Anthropocene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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
  • Edward B. Barbier
  • Ian Bateman
  • Inge van den Bijgaart
  • Anne Sophie Crépin
  • Ottmar Edenhofer
  • Carolyn Fischer
  • Wolfgang Habla
  • John Hassler
  • Olof Johansson-Stenman
  • Andreas Lange
  • Stephen Polasky
  • Johan Rockström
  • Will Steffen
  • Gernot Wagner
  • James E. Wilen
  • Francisco Alpízar
  • Christian Azar
  • Donna Carless
  • Carlos Chávez
  • Jessica Coria
  • Gustav Engström
  • Sverker C. Jagers
  • Gunnar Köhlin
  • Åsa Löfgren
  • Håkan Pleijel
  • Amanda Robinson
External organisations
  • University of Gothenburg
  • Colorado State University
  • University of Exeter
  • Stockholm University
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  • Technical University of Berlin
  • Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change
  • Resources for the Future Inc.
  • Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW)
  • University of Hamburg
  • University of Minnesota system
  • Harvard University
  • University of California, Davis
  • Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center
  • Chalmers University of Technology
  • Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics
  • Australian National University
  • University of Talca
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-21
Number of pages8
JournalNature Sustainability
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch