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What is Common Home of Humanity?

A planet with an Earth System outside a favourable state cannot serve as our "Home". To build our Common Home is to build a human organisation capable of reconciling the individual interests of States with the common interests of all humankind, to ensure that the next generations have a stable, habitable Earth System on which they can survive and thrive. As such, the Common Home of Humanity Initiative works to build a global consortium of thought leaders and experts to create the structural conditions for a new model of just and sustainable global governance based on the maintenance of the Safe Operating Space.

What do we propose?

Common Home of Humanity proposes a governance model for safeguarding the Safe Operating Space of the Earth System— the conditions necessary for us to live safely and comfortably on Planet Earth. Our strategic objectives are 1) to secure the global legal recognition of our Safe Operating Space as a Natural Intangible Common Heritage of Humankind and 2) to enable the development and implementation of an environmental-economic accounting system for the monitoring and protection of this Safe Operating Space.

How will we do it?

The Common Home of Humanity is assembling an international coalition of leading Earth System and sustainability scientists, socio-economists, legal experts, sovereign states, NGOs, international organisations, local authorities, academia and other stakeholders within three groups that together, will move the collaboration forward: the Legal Working Group, the Earth System Accounting Framework Working Group and the Advisory Group. The Common Home of Humanity National Pilot Programme will serve as a trial for the accounting framework.
Our efforts will be directed towards working with the United Nations, which is currently the only Institution with both universal membership and the legitimacy to host such a global initiative. Ultimately, protecting and managing a legally recognised Safe Operating Space requires an independent trusteeship institution that – supported by a Scientific Commission – can and must act on behalf of all humanity for the management of our Planetary Condominium.

What is the Earth System?

The Earth System is the “global environment as an integrated whole”, a unique set of interacting physical, chemical, and biological global-scale cycles and energy flows that allow, and are regulated by, life on the planet. Operating beyond countries and borders, these global cycles are shared by every living thing on the planet, including humans. Maintained or damaged by our activities, they make up humanity’s ultimate Global Common. This unique system provides the necessary conditions we need to survive and thrive – the Safe Operating Space for humanity. If the functioning of the Earth System undergoes significant change, life as we know it will be severely affected.

What are the Planetary Boundaries?

What is the Safe Operating Space?

A favourable Earth System is identifiable today through the Planetary Boundaries framework (first introduced by Rockström, Steffen and colleagues in 2009), which defines nine critical Earth System processes (e.g., climate change, ozone depletion, biosphere integrity, and others) whose effective management is key to the maintenance of a resilient and accommodating state of the planet. The collection of these nine processes and their interactions, as well as their maintenance within scientifically defined limits is what is called the Safe Operating Space for humanity

What do you mean by Planetary Condominium?

A condominium is a legal object with a unitary structure and common functional systems, which belongs to multiple co-owners and in which different legal regimes coexist: each co-owner has private rights of ownership over determined parts (e.g. apartments), while sharing ownership over structural elements of common use (e.g. foundations) and functional systems (e.g. electricity). A Planetary Condominium (first conceived by Magalhães in 2007) is the result of scaling up the condominium model to planetary level. Under this model, the functional and spatial divisions between apartments and communal elements and systems are parallel to that of the State’s territorial jurisdictions and the functional indivisibility of the Earth System.

What would getting the Earth System recognised as the Natural Intangible Common Heritage of Humankind mean? Why is global legal recognition so important?

The Common Home of Humanity embraces Kant’s statement that “only in the pursuit of common interests can we guarantee our individual rights”. It offers an opportunity for all nations, and all generations to come together around a common global heritage with no borders to acknowledge and own the need to protect the Safe Operating Space and thus successfully manage their relationship with the Earth System. Without legal recognition of the Safe Operating Space, the Earth System and its critical processes will remain invisible to the economy and peripheral to the organisation and activities of human societies, with impacts treated as “externalities”. The fact that the favourable state of the Earth System is essentially composed of non-territorial and intangible elements should not constitute an insurmountable obstacle to its legal recognition. Fortunately, human societies have a long history of recognising intangible assets and granting them legal protection. Examples include Intangible Cultural Heritage (UNESCO), good will value of companies and intellectual property rights.

How is State Sovereignty affected by this proposal?

The Common Home of Humanity recognizes that a precondition for success of a fair global governance model is to maintain independence of nations in their decision-making processes. The condominium framework allows nations to retain sovereignty and the power of decision-making for their welfare within the context of a system of governance that ensures the protection of nature and incentivises the protection and provision of common benefits, represented by the Planetary Condominium.

How is the economic benefit possible under the Common Home of Humanity’s proposal?

Under the Common Home of Humanity’s governance model, externalities – through the new Common Intangible Heritage and the valuation of Earth System services – will be internalised and reflected in our economies. This will offer the first opportunity ever for nations to generate tangible economic benefits from reducing impacts or maintaining and improving the provision of Earth System services.

How does the Common Home of Humanity fit with existing global agreements and initiatives?

The Common Home of Humanity brings a new integrated legal framework with a trans-disciplinary approach that will enable new perspectives for solutions on many multilateral agreements developed independently, exploring their contribution to the broader goal of a just, multi-faceted global governance model. Ultimately, this will facilitate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, thus ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.

What is unique about Common Home of Humanity?

One of the most crucial challenges of the Anthropocene is to reconcile the rigid dichotomy between two key diverging approaches for the governance of the Commons: on one side, the classic view of Hardin calling for division and private property rights as the only way to avoid the “Tragedy of the Commons”; on the other, Ostrom’s suggestion of coordinated actions for community-based management of common-pool goods and resources. Both views, at a global scale, have been derived from a society that is territorial and considers “the commons” to be that which is leftover from sovereignty or private property. This over simplified one-dimensional view leaves out the core expression of nature: the functional Earth System as a single, complex life-support system representing humanity’s ultimate global common. What has been seen as impossible for decades – the coexistence of the views of Hardin and Ostrom – becomes possible through the up-scaling of the condominium model to the planetary level proposed by the Common Home of Humanity.

Who funds Common Home of Humanity?

Common Home of Humanity is currently supported by the Portuguese Ministry of Environment as well as the Municipalities of Porto and Gaia.

Who are Common Home of Humanity’s partners?

Common Home of Humanity is operated under the aegis of the Portuguese NGO, ZERO - Sustainable Earth System Association and is supported by:


What was the initial spark of inspiration that brought CHH into being?

Read the story of how it all began here.

How can I help?

The Common Home of Humanity is assembling a global consortium of thought leaders and experts within three groups that together, will move the collaboration forward: the Legal Working Group, the Earth System Accounting Framework Working Group and the Advisory Group. Please consider donating your time and expertise to the consortium and join us in creating a new model for just and sustainable global governance. 

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