Development and justice through transformation: The Four Big ‘I’s

Special Report


–  A contribution to Germany´s G20 presidency in 2017 –


2015 saw a historic double success for sustainability and climate policy. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Paris Agreement on climate ­protection establish a system of ambitious policy goals for the world. The group of twenty major ­industrialized and emerging economies (G20) now needs to resolutely advance implementation of both agreements, seizing the opportunity of this ‘Great Transformation’ to sustainability as a unique ­modernization project that could offer substantial economic development opportunities. more...


> download as pdf (779 KB), 41 p.

> order printed version.

Humanity on the move: Unlocking the transformative power of cities

Flagship Report


– A Contribution to Habitat III –


The momentum of urbanization and its impacts are so massive that we must face up to this trend. In view of the existing cognitive, technical, economic and institutional path dependencies, a policy of business as usual – i.e. an unstructured, quasi-automatic urbanization – would lead to a non-sustainable ‘world cities society’. Only if cities and urban societies are sufficiently empowered can they make use of the opportunities for sustainability and successfully follow the urban transformation pathways. The success or failure of the Great Transformation will be decided in the cities. The WBGU discusses the relevant conditions for the success of this transformation in this report.

more ...


download full report (12 MB) 

> download summary as pdf (640 KB)

> download summary (spanish) as pdf (634 KB)

> download summary (chinese) as pdf (31 MB)



Climate Protection as a World Citizen Movement

Special Report


The 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it unmistakeably clear: unacceptable climate impacts, which are likely to escalate beyond the 2°C guard rail, can only be avoided if further increases in greenhouse-gas concentrations are halted as soon as possible. The WBGU therefore recommends reducing CO2 emissions from fossil fuels to zero by 2070 at the latest. This policy goal is both ambitious and incisive, because 'the zero target must be reached' by every country, every municipality, every company and every citizen if the world as a whole is to become climate-neutral. more...


> download as pdf (4.7 MB)

Human progress within planetary guard rails – A contribution to the SDG debate

Policy Paper

The year 2015 has special importance for the transformation towards sustainable ­development. New Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are then supposed to ­replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The WBGU ­presents recommendations on how guard rails for global environmental problems should be incorporated in the SDG catalogue and operationalized by means of ­corresponding targets.


> download as PDF (874 KB)


Comic: The urban planet


Cómic: El Planeta Urbano

Short film: Human Power – The concept of planetary guard rails

Speech by WBGU chair Dirk Messner at the German Habitat Forum 1.6.2016 

(9 minutes, translated from the German)

Interview: WBGU Co-Chair Schellnhuber on Divestment from economic activities which are harmful to the climate

Comic "Transformation"

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Comic (French Version)