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Conference “Earth System as a Common Heritage of Humankind, Will Steffen's Legacy and the Portuguese Climate Law”

CHH promoted the Event “Earth System as a Common Heritage of Humankind, Will Steffen’s Legacy and the Portuguese Climate Law”, with the support of Oceano Azul Foundation last 29th January 2024, in Mar da Palha Auditorium at Oceanário de Lisboa, Portugal.

Exactly one year ago, the remarkable scientist Will Steffen (1947-2023), a pioneer of the Earth System Sciences, passed away. The aim of this conference, organised by Common Home of Humanity with the support of the Oceano Azul Foundation, was to deepen his scientific and civic legacy, always geared towards ensuring that, in the current and critical epoch of the Anthropocene, the new vision offered by the Earth System Sciences may be present in law and public policies, at the level of nations and within the international system itself.

Portugal has a special responsibility in this task, as it was the first country in the world to recognise the climate as a Common Heritage of Humanity in its 2021 Climate Law. This means that the Portuguese law identifies the lack of conformity between the causes of the global environmental and climate crisis and the legal and political framework that the international community has at its disposal to deal with them. Will Steffen has always emphasised that the climate is an "emergent property" of the Earth System, including the atmosphere and oceans, whose functional dynamics is totally incompatible with the static and rigid vision that continues to predominate in politics and international law, helping to explain the failure of more than three decades of climate policy and diplomacy. The challenge left by both Will Steffen's work and the Portuguese Climate Law is to forge the forms and instruments that will make that Common Heritage a safe and long-lasting reality, otherwise we will only have in common the tragedy of our failure as a human civilisation.

The Concept Note and the Program is accessible here

Videos of the interventions from Zacarias da Costa and Minister João Cravinho

Dr. Zacarias da Costa – Executive Secretary of CPLP

Dr. João Gome Cravinho – Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs

News about the Event:

·       Expresso Journal

·       Sábado Magazine

·       Paulo Magalhães´ interview to Antena 1

·       CPLP – Comunidade dos Países de Língua Portuguesa

·       RTP (reportagem)

See the images from several moments of this Event.



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