The Opportunity of the Commons

All life on Earth depends on clean air and water, biodiversity, healthy forests, land, oceans and a stable climate. These global commons—the ecosystems, biomes and processes that regulate the stability and resilience of the Earth system—are the very foundation of our global economy and modern society.

Today, they are facing an all-toofamiliar tragedy of over-exploitation and rapid degradation. With increasing pressures from humanity, our window of opportunity to act is closing quickly. It is urgent that we bring about transformations in our key economic systems, from energy, cities and food to the “take-make-waste” economy, and leverage evidence and new information technology, political leadership, coalitions for change and innovation.

The necessity of making our societies and economies more sustainable and less inequitable is not just to avoid disaster, but to build lasting prosperity. Operating within planetary boundaries is not just the only way to ensure healthy economies, but has the potential to provide much greater and better-shared growth. That’s the opportunity of the commons.