The Triple Challenge: synergies, trade-offs and integrated responses for climate, biodiversity, and human wellbeing goals

Baldwin-Cantello, W. et al. | Climate Policy | 2023 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


Humankind faces a Triple Challenge: averting dangerous climate change, reversing biodiversity loss, and supporting the wellbeing of a growing population. Action to address each of these issues is inherently dependent on action to address the others. Local, national, and international policy goals on climate change, biological diversity, and human wellbeing have been set. Current implementation measures are insufficient to meet these goals, but the Triple Challenge can still be met if governments, corporations, and other stakeholders take a holistic perspective on management of land and waters. To inform this effort, we identify a set of priority policy responses drawn from recent international assessments that, whilst not being the only potential solutions, can form the core of such a holistic approach. We do this through an iterative process using three methodological approaches: (i) structured literature review; (ii) deliberative expert analysis; and (iii) wider consultation, before synthesizing into this paper. Context-appropriate implementation of responses will be needed to capitalize on potential policy synergies and to ensure that unavoidable trade-offs between management of land and waters for climate mitigation, biodiversity restoration, and human wellbeing outcomes are made explicit. We also set out four approaches to managing trade-offs that can promote fair and just transitions: (1) social and economic policy pivoting towards ‘inclusive wealth’; (2) more integrated policymaking across the three areas; (3) ‘Triple Challenge dialogues’ among state and non-state actors; and (4) a new research portfolio to underpin (1), (2), and (3).