A Good Life For All Within Planetary Boundaries


No country in the world currently meets the basic needs of its citizens at a globally sustainable level of resource use. Our research, recently published in Nature Sustainability (and summarised in The Conversation), is the first to quantify the national resource use associated with achieving a good life for over 150 countries. It shows that meeting the basic needs of all people on the planet would result in humanity transgressing multiple environmental limits, based on current relationships between resource use and human well-being.

The chart below demonstrates the profound challenge nations currently face. National performance on seven environmental sustainability indicators is plotted against eleven minimum social thresholds for a good life (see About page for further details). Ideally, nations would be located in the top-left corner with no biophysical boundaries transgressed and all minimum social thresholds achieved.

Biophysical Boundaries Transgressed versus Social Thresholds Achieved by Nation

For a discussion of the implications of our study, watch the video below in which degrowth researcher Giorgos Kallis interviews lead author Dan O’Neill about whether a good life can be extended to all people:

Also check out a World Map with our results, select individual Countries to see their environmental and social performance relative to a “safe and just” development space, or Explore Scenarios with different thresholds for a good life, and see what your choices would mean for sustainability.