Johan Rockström

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Johan Rockström
Johan Rockström in 2015.jpg
Rockström 2015
Born (1965-12-31) 31 December 1965 (age 57)
Alma materSwedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Stockholm University
Known forLeading development on the Planetary Boundaries framework
Scientific career
FieldsGlobal sustainability and water resources
InstitutionsStockholm University
Stockholm Resilience Centre
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Johan Rockström (born 31 December 1965) is a Swedish scientist, internationally recognized for his work on global sustainability issues. He is joint director[1] of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, together with economist Ottmar Edenhofer. He is also Professor in Earth System Science at the University of Potsdam[2] and Professor in Water Systems and Global Sustainability, Stockholm University.[3]

Rockström has pioneered work on the planetary boundaries framework, first published in 2009. The nine planetary boundaries presented in the framework, from climate to biodiversity, are argued to be fundamental in maintaining a "safe operating space for humanity.[4]"

Rockström is also a public intellectual, providing advice e.g. to UN institutions, speaking e.g. at TED events,[5] and featuring in media such as the Netflix "Breaking Boundaries" film.[6] He has published over 150 papers in fields ranging from practical land and water use to global sustainability.[7] He is ranked among the most cited researchers in the world by Clarivate Analytics.[8] Johan Rockström was executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute from 2004–2012, and director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre from 2007–2018.


Johan Rockström studied at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala (soil science and hydrology) and at the Institut national agronomique in Paris (agriculture) from 1987 to 1991. He received his Ph.D. in 1997 from Stockholm University, where his research was on "Systems Ecology and Natural Resource Management." Rockström's previous scientific work has included inter- and transdisciplinary topics on global water resources and land use management, as well as socio-ecological resilience and global material cycles.[9]

In 2009, Rockström led the team that developed the Planetary Boundaries framework, a proposed precondition for facilitating human development at a time when the planet is undergoing rapid change.[10] In recognition of this work, Fokus magazine named him "Swede of the Year" for "engaging and exciting work in sustainable development.[11] In 2010, the magazine Miljöaktuellt ranked him the second most influential person in Sweden on environmental issues, and Veckans Affärer gave him its "Social Capitalist Award".[7] In 2011 he chaired the third Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability in Stockholm.[12]

After 12 years as director of Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC), he became the 2018 joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), based in Germany, with PIK's current deputy director Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, a climate economist. Rockström and Edenhofer follow PIK director Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. He is currently member of the Board of the EAT Foundation,[13] the KR Foundation,[14] the Global Challenges Foundation,[15] a fellow for Earth League[16] as well as ch-chair of Future Earth[17] and Earth Commission.[18]

In 2020 he became a member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.[19] In 2021, together with David Attenborough, Rockström appeared in the Netflix documentary "Breaking Boundaries" and also released a book called Breaking Boundaries: The Science Behind our Planet.

He has acted as speaker to various high-level international meetings and organisations, such as the World Economic Forum,[20] the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA), the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)[21] and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conferences (UNFCCC).[22] Moreover, he is the Chief Scientist of Conservation International [23] and member of the European Investment Bank Advisory Group.[24]

If we have any chance to prevent the loss of more than a million species, we must halt biodiversity loss now, not in 20 or 30 years. If we want to have any chance of keeping global warming to 1.5C, we need to cut emissions by half over the next nine years.

– Rockström, 2021[25]


  • 2009 Swedish Person of the Year, by the journal Fokus, for bridging science and society[26]
  • 2013 Agronomist of the Year, Agronomist Association (Swedish Association of Professional Scientists)[26]
  • 2014 Woods Hole Research Center's Lawrence S. Huntington Environmental Prize[26]
  • 2015 International Cosmos Prize[26]
  • 2015 German Environmental Prize[27]
  • 2017 Hillary Laureate[28]
  • 2020 Laureate, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Award [29]

Planetary boundaries[edit]

In 2009, Rockström led an international group of 28 leading academics, who proposed a new Earth system framework for government and management agencies as a precondition for sustainable development. Recognizing that rising human pressures on climate and nature have the potential destabilize the entire Earth system, the framework posits that Earth system processes on the planet have boundaries or thresholds that should not be crossed. Staying within the safe operating space for humanity.[30] delimited by the planetary boundaries safeguards the stable environmental conditions that made the emergence of modern societies possible in the first place and will allow coming generations to develop and thrive. The group identified nine "planetary life support systems" essential for human well-being and attempted to quantify just how far these systems have been pushed already. They then estimated how much further we could go before the risk of "irreversible and abrupt environmental change" which could make Earth less habitable increases.[10] Boundaries can help identify where there is room and define a "safe space for human development", which is an improvement over approaches that aim to minimize human impacts on the planet.[10] Humanity has already transgressed five of the nine planetary boundaries[31] putting the prospects of long-term, equitable human development at risk if permanently and substantially exceeded.

According to critics, the exact location of six of these "planetary boundaries" are not proven but arbitrary, such as the 15% limit of earth use to cropland. It is claimed that increased earth use has increased global well-being. They are also connected to local rather than global consequences.[32][33] The planetary boundaries framework is not a static concept, but requires constant development to reflect progress in its scientific foundation and address the constructive debates around the framework. A broader scientific and conceptual update of the planetary boundaries was published in 2015.[34] More recent publications focused on improving quantifications of individual boundaries,[35] translating global to regional boundaries,[36][37] interconnections and feedbacks between planetary boundaries,[38] and the quantification of hitherto uncertain boundaries.[31]

Other activities[edit]

Corporate boards[edit]

  • Daimler, Member of the Advisory Board for Integrity and Corporate Responsibility[39]

Non-profit organization[edit]

Publications (selection)[edit]


  • Johan Rockström et al.: Breaking Boundaries: The Science Behind our Planet.  DK, 2021, ISBN 978-0-241-46675-9
  • Johan Rockström et al.: Eat Good – Das Kochbuch, das die Welt verändert. Hildesheim 2019, ISBN 978-3-8369-2158-9.
  • Anders Wijkman, Johan Rockström (2012), Bankrupting Nature: Denying Our Planetary Boundaries (in German), Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0-415-53969-2
  • Anders Wijkman, Johan Rockström (2012), Bankrupting Nature: Denying Our Planetary Boundaries (in German), Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0-415-53969-2
  • Malin Falkenmark, Johan Rockström (2004), Balancing Water for Humans and Nature: The New Approach in Ecohydrology (in German), Earthscan, ISBN 978-1-85383-927-6

Contributions to journals[edit]


  1. ^ "Directors — Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research". Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  2. ^ Bazant, Daniel. "Associate Professors". Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  3. ^ "Johan Rockström - Stockholm University". Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  4. ^ Rockström, Johan; Steffen, Will; Noone, Kevin; Persson, Åsa; Chapin, F. Stuart; Lambin, Eric F.; Lenton, Timothy M.; Scheffer, Marten; Folke, Carl; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim; Nykvist, Björn (September 2009). "A safe operating space for humanity". Nature. 461 (7263): 472–475. Bibcode:2009Natur.461..472R. doi:10.1038/461472a. ISSN 1476-4687. PMID 19779433. S2CID 205049746.
  5. ^ Rockström, Johan. "Johan Rockström | Speaker". TED. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  6. ^ "Watch Breaking Boundaries: The Science Of Our Planet". Netflix. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  7. ^ a b "ORCID". Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  8. ^ "Highly Cited Researchers". Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  9. ^ "DBU - "Sicheren Handlungsraum schaffen, in dem globale Entwicklung gedeihen kann"". DBU (in German). Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  10. ^ a b c Rockström, Johan; Steffen, Will; Noone, Kevin; Persson, Åsa; Chapin, F. Stuart; Lambin, Eric F.; Lenton, Timothy M.; Scheffer, Marten; Folke, Carl; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim; Nykvist, Björn; de Wit, Cynthia A.; Hughes, Terry; van der Leeuw, Sander; Rodhe, Henning; Sörlin, Sverker; Snyder, Peter K.; Costanza, Robert; Svedin, Uno; Falkenmark, Malin; Karlberg, Louise; Corell, Robert W.; Fabry, Victoria J.; Hansen, James; Walker, Brian; Liverman, Diana; Richardson, Katherine; Crutzen, Paul; Foley, Jonathan A. (2009). "A safe operating space for humanity". Nature. Springer Science and Business Media LLC. 461 (7263): 472–475. Bibcode:2009Natur.461..472R. doi:10.1038/461472a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 19779433. S2CID 205049746.
  11. ^ Johan Rockstrom Sweden's Person of Year . Resilience Science. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  12. ^ At Stockholm Gathering of Minds: Planet Earth vs. Humanity National Geographic Daily News, 18 May 2011.
  13. ^ "Board of Trustees". EAT. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  14. ^ "About us - krfnd" (in Danish). 29 March 2021. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  15. ^ "Organisation". The Global Challenges Foundation. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  16. ^ "Who we are". The Earth League. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  17. ^ a b "Johan Rockström". Future Earth. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  18. ^ "Commissioners". Earth Commission. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  19. ^ "Johan Rockström". German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Johan Rockström - Agenda Contributor". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  21. ^ "SDSN Newsletter — June 2019". 1 July 2019. Archived from the original on 5 August 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  22. ^ "Solutions For a Climate Crisis". Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  23. ^ "Johan Rockström, Ph.D." Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  24. ^ "EIB Launches Climate-Focused Advisory Council Chaired by ECB President Christine Lagarde". ESG Today. 2 September 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  25. ^ Interview Guardian
  26. ^ a b c d "International Cosmos Prizewinner 2015".
  27. ^ "Mojib Latif und Johan Rockström erhalten Deutschen Umweltpreis". Der Spiegel (in German). 22 September 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  28. ^ "Laureates".
  29. ^ "The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation reveals 2020 laureates for environmental protection". Monaco Tribune. 24 June 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  30. ^ "Earth's boundaries?". Nature. 461 (7263): 447–448. 2009. Bibcode:2009Natur.461R.447.. doi:10.1038/461447b. PMID 19779405.
  31. ^ a b Persson, Linn; Carney Almroth, Bethanie M.; Collins, Christopher D.; Cornell, Sarah; de Wit, Cynthia A.; Diamond, Miriam L.; Fantke, Peter; Hassellöv, Martin; MacLeod, Matthew; Ryberg, Morten W.; Søgaard Jørgensen, Peter (1 February 2022). "Outside the Safe Operating Space of the Planetary Boundary for Novel Entities". Environmental Science & Technology. 56 (3): 1510–1521. Bibcode:2022EnST...56.1510P. doi:10.1021/acs.est.1c04158. ISSN 0013-936X. PMC 8811958. PMID 35038861.
  32. ^ Walking the Line: How to Identify Safe Limits for Human Impacts on the Planet, By David Biello | Scientific American – Wed, 13 June 2012
  33. ^ The Global Doomsayers' Ever-Changing Story, WSJ, 15 June 2012
  34. ^ Steffen, Will; Richardson, Katherine; Rockström, Johan; Cornell, Sarah E.; Fetzer, Ingo; Bennett, Elena M.; Biggs, Reinette; Carpenter, Stephen R.; de Vries, Wim; de Wit, Cynthia A.; Folke, Carl (13 February 2015). "Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet". Science. 347 (6223): 1259855. doi:10.1126/science.1259855. hdl:1885/13126. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 25592418. S2CID 206561765.
  35. ^ Gleeson, Tom; Wang-Erlandsson, Lan; Zipper, Samuel C.; Porkka, Miina; Jaramillo, Fernando; Gerten, Dieter; Fetzer, Ingo; Cornell, Sarah E.; Piemontese, Luigi; Gordon, Line J.; Rockström, Johan (20 March 2020). "The Water Planetary Boundary: Interrogation and Revision". One Earth. 2 (3): 223–234. Bibcode:2020OEart...2..223G. doi:10.1016/j.oneear.2020.02.009. ISSN 2590-3330.
  36. ^ Gerten, Dieter; Heck, Vera; Jägermeyr, Jonas; Bodirsky, Benjamin Leon; Fetzer, Ingo; Jalava, Mika; Kummu, Matti; Lucht, Wolfgang; Rockström, Johan; Schaphoff, Sibyll; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim (March 2020). "Feeding ten billion people is possible within four terrestrial planetary boundaries". Nature Sustainability. 3 (3): 200–208. doi:10.1038/s41893-019-0465-1. ISSN 2398-9629. S2CID 210835116.
  37. ^ Zipper, Samuel C.; Jaramillo, Fernando; Wang‐Erlandsson, Lan; Cornell, Sarah E.; Gleeson, Tom; Porkka, Miina; Häyhä, Tiina; Crépin, Anne‐Sophie; Fetzer, Ingo; Gerten, Dieter; Hoff, Holger (February 2020). "Integrating the Water Planetary Boundary With Water Management From Local to Global Scales". Earth's Future. 8 (2): e2019EF001377. Bibcode:2020EaFut...801377Z. doi:10.1029/2019EF001377. ISSN 2328-4277. PMC 7375053. PMID 32715010.
  38. ^ Lade, Steven J.; Steffen, Will; de Vries, Wim; Carpenter, Stephen R.; Donges, Jonathan F.; Gerten, Dieter; Hoff, Holger; Newbold, Tim; Richardson, Katherine; Rockström, Johan (February 2020). "Human impacts on planetary boundaries amplified by Earth system interactions". Nature Sustainability. 3 (2): 119–128. doi:10.1038/s41893-019-0454-4. ISSN 2398-9629. S2CID 209381109.
  39. ^ Advisory Board for Integrity and Corporate Responsibility Daimler.
  40. ^ Jury Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity.
  41. ^ Board of Trustees EAT Foundation.
  42. ^ Board KR Foundation.
  43. ^ Board Global Challenges Foundation.
  44. ^ "Who we are". The Earth League. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  45. ^ "Commissioners". Earth Commission. Retrieved 17 March 2022.

External links[edit]