2024 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement winner Johan Rockström. (Photo: Jadranko Marjanovic.)

USC Dornsife celebrates Tyler Prize winner for defining Earth’s vital limits

Johan Rockström joins the ranks of environmental visionaries honored by the Tyler Prize, administered by USC Dornsife, for his pioneering work on the “Planetary Boundaries” framework.
ByUSC Dornsife News Staff

On a gold background, "Asgmt Earth" appears inside a black circle and "USC" inside a small, white circle that slightly overlaps the black circle.Johan Rockström, a prominent Swedish scientist and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, has been awarded the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, commonly known as the environmental Nobel Prize. This recognition, initially reported by the Wall Street Journal, includes a $250,000 award and celebrates profound contributions to environmental science, policy and awareness.

Graphic representation of the Planetary Boundaries concept. (Image: Courtesy of Tyler Prize.)

Administered by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Tyler Prize honors Rockström for his seminal research on the “Planetary Boundaries” framework. This framework serves as a scientific compass, guiding humanity to maintain the planet within a safe operational zone.

Rockström, whose research is featured in the Netflix documentary “Breaking Boundaries: The Science of our Planet“ with David Attenborough, is acclaimed for pinpointing nine systems essential for Earth’s environmental equilibrium, encompassing freshwater availability, atmospheric ozone integrity and biological diversity. He has meticulously mapped a “tipping point” threshold for each system, underscoring the critical need to respect these limits to prevent irreversible ecological degradation.

“His scientific achievements, coupled with his ability to influence policy and engage with the public, have made an invaluable contribution to our planet’s welfare,” said Tyler Prize Chair Julia Marton-Lefèvre.

The accolade will be formally presented to Rockström on May 17 during a ceremony in Potsdam, Germany. Previous winners include conservationist Jane Goodall and climate scientist Michael Mann.

Instituted in 1973 and stewarded by USC Dornsife, home to USC’s renowned Environmental Studies program and the Wrigley Institute for Environment and Sustainability, the Tyler Prize reflects the university’s deep commitment to environmental research and education, consistent with USC President Carol Folt’s Assignment: Earth initiative.