Global Commons Stewardship Index 2024

Mar 22, 2024

Transforming global production and consumption for earth's safe operating space

The need for a concrete and rapid action to preserve the Global Commons is urgent. The fourth edition of the Global Commons Stewardship Index Report mobilizes the latest data on countries’ both domestic and spillovers impacts on the environment. Published ahead of several important international events including the September 2024 UN Summit of the Future, the 2024 GCS Index Report provides data, statistics and policy pathways and to curb domestic...


Ishii, N., Lafortune, G., Esty, D., Berthet, E., Fuller, G., Kawasaki, A., Bermont-Diaz, L. and Allali, S. (2024). Global Commons Stewardship Index 2024. SDSN, Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, and Center for Global Commons at the University of Tokyo. Paris; New Haven, CT; and Tokyo.

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Human activities threaten the stability and resilience of the global commons — the interdependent Earth systems, which provide the foundation for humanity’s prosperity and future wellbeing. In-deed, recent work by those tracking critical planetary boundaries suggest that six of nine critical thresholds have been transgressed (Richardson, Steffen, et al, 2023). This fourth edition of the Global Commons Stewardship Index Report presents the most recent data on domestic impacts and transboundary spillovers on the Global Commons. Building on the latest research and modelling tools in the field of industrial ecology and environmental science as well as the recognition that this work has now begun to receive (including the 2024 Tyler prize awarded to Johan Rockstrom), we hope this report can support the efforts made by policymakers at the global and national levels to safeguard the Global Commons. We underline three major findings from this year’s GCS Index edition:

  • Global production and consumption systems continue to undermine the stable and resilient Earth systems, the global commons, which are the foundations of our civilization. We underline in particular, the impact of G20 countries which are responsible for the lion’s share of global negative impacts on the Global Commons. In per capita terms, Australia, Canada and the Unit-ed States are the worst G20 performers according of this year’s GCS Index. In absolute terms, China, the United States and the European Union are the worst performers globally. G20 countries are not only responsible for production-based negative impacts on the Global Commons, but also for more than 70% of the GHG emissions and deforestation in the international trade system. No country has achieved high levels of human development and low impact on the Global Commons.

  • The environmental stress caused and transmitted through trade systems is significant; often exceeding 30% of countries’ total GHG emissions and 50% of countries’ total impacts on deforestation and water stress. One-third or more of the total GHG emission footprint of South Korea, Japan, Italy, the EU, Germany, France and the United Kingdom is embodied into trade. More than half of the total deforestation caused by Germany, India, Turkey, France, Italy, China, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and Japan is generated outside of the borders of these countries. Finally, 50% or more of scarce water consumption in the EU, Italy, South Korea, Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and Canada happens in the rest of the world to satisfy consumption in these countries. These findings emphasize that negative trade-based spillovers are significant and must be part of any strategy to safeguard the Global Commons. Good data and metrics at all levels (global, national, industry, commodity levels) are critical to address negative impacts from unsustainable supply chains.

  • The world currently does not have a global governance mechanism to coherently address spill-over impacts associated with unsustainable global supply chains. It is now urgent to come up with effective governance mechanisms to safeguard the global commons based on sound data and the latest insights from science. The publication of the Villars Framework for a Sustainable Global Trade System in 2023, led by the Remaking Trade for a Sustainable Future initiative, is an important step in this direction. Published ahead of several important international events including the September 2024 UN Summit of the Future, the November 2024 UNFCCC COPs in Azerbaijan and in Brazil in 2025 as well as the CBD COP in Colombia in 2024, the 2024 GCS Index report provides useful data and statistics to define pathways and policies to curb domestic and spillover impacts on the Global Commons – and sharpen the focus of policymakers on these challenges.

The GCS Index report, data platform and databases are downloadable free of charge at: &


This report was prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), Paris; the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, New Haven, CT; and the Center for Global Commons at the University of Tokyo. The analysis and report production were undertaken by Grayson Fuller, Etienne Berthet, Sara Allali, Leslie Bermont-Diaz and Akiyuki Kawasaki under the direction of Guillaume Lafortune, Daniel C. Esty, and Naoko Ishii. Guilherme Iablonovski, Max Grüber and Ruben Andino provided statistical and technical support. The authors are grateful for contributions and feedback provided by the Yale Center for Environ-mental Law & Policy, SYSTEMIQ, the World Resources Institute, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the Institute for Future Initiatives at the University of Tokyo. The Center for Global Commons at the University of Tokyo provided financial support for this work. The views expressed in this report do not reflect the views of any organizations, agencies, or pro-grams of the United Nations. Design and layout by Pica Publishing Ltd –