Surviving the Anthropocene: Towards Global Sustainability with Prof. Will Steffen 2012

On December 13th 2012, the Division of Environmental Strategies Research (fms) and KTH-Sustainability arranged an open seminar. Invited speaker was Professor Will Steffen, Executive Director of Climate Change Institute at The Australian National University, and senior research fellow at Stockholm Resilience Center.

 Interview with Professor Will Steffen

The seminar

Slides from the lecture (pdf 4.7 MB)

Sustainability has now been embedded in most countries as a long-term, high order social goal, but it is virtually always framed at local, regional or national levels. The concept of the Anthropocene – the proposed new geological epoch in which human activities now rival the great forces of Nature – implies that sustainability must now also be considered at the global level. This presentation will briefly explore the development of the Anthropocene and its trajectory up to the present. The focus will then shift to the future, in terms of achieving global sustainability at the planetary level as a prerequisite for achieving sustainability at any other level. We will examine emerging trends in the 21st century, both in the human enterprise and in the natural world, and analyse their implications for moving towards global sustainability. Finally, we’ll put forward some proposals, including the planetary boundaries framework, for changing the human-environment relationship towards achieving sustainability.

About Will Steffen

Professor Steffen is Executive Director of Climate Change Institute at The Australian National University. He has a long history in international global change research, serving from 1998 to 2004 as Executive Director of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), based in Stockholm, Sweden, and before that as Executive Officer of IGBP's Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems project.

Prior to taking up the ANU Climate Change Institute Directorship in 2008, Steffen was the inaugural director of the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society. From 2004 to 2011 he served as science adviser to the Australian Government Department of Climate Change. He is currently a Climate Commissioner with the Australian Government Climate Commission; Chair of the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee, Co-Director of the Canberra Urban and Regional Futures (CURF) initiative and Member of the ACT Climate Change Council.

Steffen's interests span a broad range within the fields of sustainability and Earth System science, with an emphasis on the science of climate change, approaches to climate change adaptation in land systems, incorporation of human processes in Earth System modelling and analysis; and the history and future of the relationship between humans and the rest of nature.

About the hosts

Division of Environmental Strategies Research (fms) at KTH focus on developing solutions for, knowledge on and debate around strategic environmental problems. The area of research is the interconnections between environmental issues, technological developments and societal change. Webpage

KTH-Sustainability was founded in 2011 in order to work on the environment and sustainable development of KTH’s research, education and collaboration. The project is headed by Vice-President for Sustainable Development, Prof. Göran Finnveden.