The planetary wellbeing initiative: Pursuing the sustainable development goals in higher education

Authors: Josep Maria Antó, Jose Luis Martí, Jaume Casals, Paul Bou-Habib, Paula Casal, Marc Fleurbaey, Howard Frumkin, Manel Jiménez-Morales, Jacint Jordana, Carla Lancelotti, Humberto Llavador, Lela Mélon, Ricard Solé, Francesc Subirada and Andrew Williams

Sustainability (Switzerland), Vol. 13, No 6, March, 2021

We live in a time of pressing planetary challenges, many of which threaten catastrophic change to the natural environment and require massive and novel coordinated scientific and societal efforts on an unprecedented scale. Universities and other academic institutions have the opportunity and responsibility to assume a leading role in an era when the destiny of the planet is precisely in the hands of human beings. Drawing on the Planetary Health project promoted by the Rockefeller Foundation and The Lancet, Pompeu Fabra University launched in 2018 the Planetary Wellbeing Initiative, a long-term institutional strategy also animated by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Planetary Wellbeing might be defined as the highest attainable standard of wellbeing for human and non-human beings and their social and natural systems. Developing the potential of these new concepts involves a substantial theoretical and empirical effort in many different fields, all of them interrelated by the crosscutting challenges of global complexity, interdisciplinarity, and urgency. Close collaboration of science, humanities, and culture is more desperately needed now than ever before in the history of humankind.