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Virtual Dialogue: Impacts of meeting minimum access on critical earth systems amidst the Great Inequality

With Joyeeta Gupta

In the paper ‘Impacts of meeting minimum access on critical earth systems amidst the Great Inequality’ which Joyeeta Gupta, University of Amsterdam, will present, the authors show that the ‘Great Acceleration’ of human impacts was characterized by a ‘Great Inequality’ in using and damaging the environment. The authors operationalize ‘just access’ to minimum energy, water, food and infrastructure, and show that achieving just access in 2018, with existing inequalities, technologies and behaviours, would have produced 2–26% additional impacts on the Earth’s natural systems of climate, water, land and nutrients—thus further crossing planetary boundaries. These hypothetical impacts, caused by about a third of humanity, equalled those caused by the wealthiest 1–4%. Technological and behavioural changes thus far, while important, did not deliver just access within a stable Earth system. Achieving these goals therefore calls for a radical redistribution of resources.

Joyeeta Gupta  is full professor of environment and development in the global south at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research of the University of Amsterdam and IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. She is also the Faculty Professor on Sustainability (2019-2024) and leads the programme group on Governance and Inclusive Development.

Joyeeta Gupta is co-chair of the Earth Commission (2019-2021), set up by Future Earth and supported by the Global Challenges Foundation, together with Johan Rockström and Dahe Qin. She was co-chair of UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook-6 (2016-2019), published by Cambridge University Press, which was presented to governments participating in the United Nations Environment Assembly in 2019, and was covered in newspapers worldwide. It has justwon the Association of American Publishers PROSE award for Environmental Science. She has also been named as co-chair of the Earth Commission (2019-2021), set up by Future Earth and supported by the Global Challenges Foundation, together with Johan Rockström and Dahe Qin.

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