Towards a Sustainable Earth: Environment-human systems and the UN Global Goals

The nature of our 21st century development challenges requires a shift in thinking and action that will better prepare us for the future, while enabling more effective development interventions today.

NERC, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) are committed to seeing the UN Global Goals become a reality. The first step towards this requires quickly identifying a research agenda that will pinpoint what we still need to understand in order to chart a sound transition to sustainable development. The nature of the challenges we face requires a paradigm shift in our global approach, indeed, the inspiration for our collaboration is the core premise that the environment-human relationship must be central to our sustainable development solutions. The resilience of our ecosystems, the security of natural resources, and the stability of Earth's life-support systems are necessary for humans to thrive.

The goal

Our goal is to prioritise research and innovation for sustainable, resilient human development, and mobilise resources and actions to support it with the overall outcome that responsible management of the planet is recognised as a core requirement for advancing the global economy and improving the well-being of humanity. See the statement of intent below.

Full statement of intent (PDF, 237KB).

Global Goals Mapping: the environment-human landscape

In 2016, NERC commissioned a report on behalf of the Towards a Sustainable Earth partners. The report, which was published in July 2017 titled 'Global Goals Mapping: the environment human landscape', demonstrates how environment-human interactions underpin each of the Global Goals, and that understanding how these interactions apply across the goals is critical to achieving them.

Global Goals Mapping: the environment human landscape (PDF, 3MB).