Johan Rockström receives honorary doctorate

(19-03-2018) On 23rd March, Ghent University will award an honorary doctorate to Swedish sustainability expert Johan Rockström (Stockholm Resilience Centre).

By awarding this honorary title, Ghent University wishes to emphasize her commitment for sustainable development.

Johan Rockström is director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. He examines the resilience of our planet and is internationally recognized for his work in worldwide sustainability topics. In 2009 he managed the team that developed the Planetary Boundaries concept.

Planetary boundaries

Planetary boundaries is a concept of nine Earth system processes which have boundaries proposed in 2009 by a group of Earth system and environmental scientists led by Johan Rockström.

The group wanted to define a "safe operating space for humanity" for the international community, including governments at all levels, international organizations, civil society, the scientific community and the private sector, as a precondition for sustainable development. The framework is based on scientific evidence that human actions since the Industrial Revolution have become the main driver of global environmental change. The scientists assert that once human activity has passed certain thresholds or tipping points, defined as "planetary boundaries", there is a risk of "irreversible and abrupt environmental change".

The nine Earth system process boundaries mark the safe zone for the planet to the extent that they are not crossed. Defining the boundaries is a promising step towards the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). The concept of these boundaries has already triggered a series of sustainable actions, ranging from transition cities and organic farming to sustainable fishery.

Symposium ‘Planetary boundaries: from global challenges to local solutions’

On March 22nd, the day before the honorary doctorate award ceremony, the faculty of Bioscience Engineering organises an inspiring evening on how sustainable development goals and planetary boundaries can be implemented on a local scale.

Together with prof. Johan Rockström, two other sustainability experts will share their vision:

  1. Prof. Johan Bouma (Wageningen University) strives for a more transdisciplinary approach with advantages for the environment as well as the economy.
  2. Prof. Eric Davidson (University of Maryland) is looking for solutions for the global nitrogen emission in a world that wants to feed more than 7 billion people.

Programme of the symposium:

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