The Path towards Planetary Responsibility - Expanding the Domain of Human Responsibility Is a Fundamental Goal for Lifelong Learning in a High-Consumption Society

Arto O. Salonen, Mauri K. Åhlberg


How can we ensure a safe and just operating space for humanity? How to maintain the current human capabilities and opportunities and to support their expansion so that future generations will have the same capabilities and freedom as we do? Finnish university students (n=210) assessed 36 statements about environmental, social and economic sustainability according to the importance and actual implementation of the items in their daily life. They also made 464 comments about barriers to sustainable way of living. The data were analyzed with quantitative and qualitative methods. The results show that there is an attitude¬¬-behavior gap between every single assessed item of sustainable development. Overcoming the largest identified gaps calls for planetary responsibility. The most important and fundamental target for lifelong learning is to expand the domain of human responsibility to cover people, animals and other organisms, plants, and life-supporting ecosystems as well as natural resources of the planet Earth. This planetary responsibility requires a holistic vision consisting of changes in worldviews, ways of thinking, well-being paradigms and life orientations.

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Journal of Sustainable Development   ISSN 1913-9063 (Print)   ISSN 1913-9071 (Online) Email:

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