Democratising planetary boundaries

Experts, social values and deliberative risk evaluation in Earthsystem governance

Jonathan Pickering, Åsa Persson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Recent debates about the concept of planetary boundaries recall longstanding concerns about whether ecological limits are compatible with ecological democracy. The planetary boundaries framework (originally set out in Rockström et al., 2009a, 2009b) defines values for key Earth-system processes such as climate change and biodiversity that aim to maintain a ‘safe’ distance from thresholds or levels that could endanger human wellbeing. Despite having a significant impact in policy debates, the framework has been criticised as implying an expert-driven approach to governing global environmental risks that lacks democratic legitimacy. Drawing on research on deliberative democracy and the role of science in democratic societies, we argue that planetary boundaries can be interpreted in ways that remain consistent with democratic decision-making. We show how an iterative, dialogical process to formulate planetary boundaries and negotiate ‘planetary targets’ could form the basis for a democratically legitimate division of labour among experts, citizens and policy-makers in evaluating and responding to Earth-system risks. Crucial to this division of evaluative labour is opening up space for deliberative contestation about the value judgments inherent in collective responses to Earth-system risks, while also safeguarding the ability of experts to issue warnings about what they consider to be unacceptable risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Sep 2019

Fingerprint

labor division
democracy
environmental risk
decision making
biodiversity
climate change
social value
evaluation
policy
society
science
citizen

Cite this

@article{2d50758b6e3a4c10a2299830d1241600,
title = "Democratising planetary boundaries: Experts, social values and deliberative risk evaluation in Earthsystem governance",
abstract = "Recent debates about the concept of planetary boundaries recall longstanding concerns about whether ecological limits are compatible with ecological democracy. The planetary boundaries framework (originally set out in Rockstr{\"o}m et al., 2009a, 2009b) defines values for key Earth-system processes such as climate change and biodiversity that aim to maintain a ‘safe’ distance from thresholds or levels that could endanger human wellbeing. Despite having a significant impact in policy debates, the framework has been criticised as implying an expert-driven approach to governing global environmental risks that lacks democratic legitimacy. Drawing on research on deliberative democracy and the role of science in democratic societies, we argue that planetary boundaries can be interpreted in ways that remain consistent with democratic decision-making. We show how an iterative, dialogical process to formulate planetary boundaries and negotiate ‘planetary targets’ could form the basis for a democratically legitimate division of labour among experts, citizens and policy-makers in evaluating and responding to Earth-system risks. Crucial to this division of evaluative labour is opening up space for deliberative contestation about the value judgments inherent in collective responses to Earth-system risks, while also safeguarding the ability of experts to issue warnings about what they consider to be unacceptable risks.",
keywords = "Anthropocene, deliberative democracy, Earth system governance, ecological democracy, Planetary boundaries, science-policy interface",
author = "Jonathan Pickering and {\AA}sa Persson",
year = "2019",
month = "9",
day = "9",
doi = "10.1080/1523908X.2019.1661233",
language = "English",
pages = "1--13",
journal = "Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning",
issn = "1522-7200",
publisher = "Routledge",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Democratising planetary boundaries

T2 - Experts, social values and deliberative risk evaluation in Earthsystem governance

AU - Pickering, Jonathan

AU - Persson, Åsa

PY - 2019/9/9

Y1 - 2019/9/9

N2 - Recent debates about the concept of planetary boundaries recall longstanding concerns about whether ecological limits are compatible with ecological democracy. The planetary boundaries framework (originally set out in Rockström et al., 2009a, 2009b) defines values for key Earth-system processes such as climate change and biodiversity that aim to maintain a ‘safe’ distance from thresholds or levels that could endanger human wellbeing. Despite having a significant impact in policy debates, the framework has been criticised as implying an expert-driven approach to governing global environmental risks that lacks democratic legitimacy. Drawing on research on deliberative democracy and the role of science in democratic societies, we argue that planetary boundaries can be interpreted in ways that remain consistent with democratic decision-making. We show how an iterative, dialogical process to formulate planetary boundaries and negotiate ‘planetary targets’ could form the basis for a democratically legitimate division of labour among experts, citizens and policy-makers in evaluating and responding to Earth-system risks. Crucial to this division of evaluative labour is opening up space for deliberative contestation about the value judgments inherent in collective responses to Earth-system risks, while also safeguarding the ability of experts to issue warnings about what they consider to be unacceptable risks.

AB - Recent debates about the concept of planetary boundaries recall longstanding concerns about whether ecological limits are compatible with ecological democracy. The planetary boundaries framework (originally set out in Rockström et al., 2009a, 2009b) defines values for key Earth-system processes such as climate change and biodiversity that aim to maintain a ‘safe’ distance from thresholds or levels that could endanger human wellbeing. Despite having a significant impact in policy debates, the framework has been criticised as implying an expert-driven approach to governing global environmental risks that lacks democratic legitimacy. Drawing on research on deliberative democracy and the role of science in democratic societies, we argue that planetary boundaries can be interpreted in ways that remain consistent with democratic decision-making. We show how an iterative, dialogical process to formulate planetary boundaries and negotiate ‘planetary targets’ could form the basis for a democratically legitimate division of labour among experts, citizens and policy-makers in evaluating and responding to Earth-system risks. Crucial to this division of evaluative labour is opening up space for deliberative contestation about the value judgments inherent in collective responses to Earth-system risks, while also safeguarding the ability of experts to issue warnings about what they consider to be unacceptable risks.

KW - Anthropocene

KW - deliberative democracy

KW - Earth system governance

KW - ecological democracy

KW - Planetary boundaries

KW - science-policy interface

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85073802959&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/FL140100154

U2 - 10.1080/1523908X.2019.1661233

DO - 10.1080/1523908X.2019.1661233

M3 - Article

SP - 1

EP - 13

JO - Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning

JF - Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning

SN - 1522-7200

ER -