Earth System, the Common Heritage

The need for a new legal approach

to the global climate emergency 


International Conference


8-10 October, 2020


Porto, Gaia - Portugal

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Earth System, the Common Heritage

The need for a new legal approach to the global

climate emergency 

8-10 October, 2020 | Porto - Gaia, Portugal

After 25 years’ of climate negotiations gridlock, the first question raised since the 1980’s UN negotiations is still unanswered - the Legal Status of Climate - A legal framework to globally govern our common good, the Earth System, is a necessary structural condition to make collective action possible. 

If You Want Different Results, You Have to Try Different Approaches
Albert Einstein

From the tragedy of commons to a Common Heritage. 
In over 40 years of international environmental and climate negotiations, there has been a systematic omission of the most basic requirement that makes possible any human enterprise: an appropriate legal framework. The planetary system that we inhabit - the Earth System - is comprised of interacting physical, chemical and biological cycles and energy flows that not only support life, but are regulated by life. The Earth System is the ultimate common good, yet it has no legal recognition and is thus subject to increasing degradation and destruction by human actions. We now face a tragedy of the commons at the global scale, where everyone operates in a free-for-all scenario and there are neither restrictions on the use of the Earth System, nor compensation for those who maintain it in a well-functioning state.   The first step for a successful management of the commons, is the adoption of a clear legal definition of the common good. The failure to do so has led to the climate and biosphere emergencies, as inevitable and logical outcomes of the unregulated use of the Earth System.


Paulo Magalhães

Director General, Common Home of Humanity

Centro de Investigação Jurídico-Económica (CIJE), University of Porto

Will Steffen

Scientific Co-Chair, Common Home of Humanity

Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University Australian National University, Canberra

Klaus Bosselmann

Scientific Co-Chair, Common Home of Humanity

Director of the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law

University of Auckland

Augusto López-Claros

Board Member, Common Home of Humanity School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University Former Director, Global Indicators Group, World Bank Former Chief Economist and Director, Global Competitiveness Program, World Economic Forum

Chair of the Organizing Committee:

José Manuel Viegas

Full professor (retired), University of Lisbon Former Secretary-General of the International Transport Forum at the OECD


Nathalie Meusy

Expert in Sustainability

European Space Agency


Álvaro Vasconcelos

Founder of the Global Governance Group 10 and of Forum Demos Former Director of the European Union Institute for Security Studies

Viriato Soromenho-Marques


Philosopher – Full professor, University of Lisbon


Ana Barreira

Director IIDMA - Instituto Internacional del Derecho del Medio Ambiente





8, 9 - PORTO


10 - GAIA