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

William Baldwin-Cantello* (Corresponding Author), Dave Tickner, Mark H. Wright, Michael Clark, Stephen Cornelius, Karen Ellis, Angela Francis, Jaboury Ghazoul, James E. Gordon, Nathanial Matthews, E.J. Milner-Gulland, Pete Smith, Simon Walmsley, Lucy Young

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


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 drawing using three methodological approaches: i) structured literature review; ii) deliberative expert analysis; and iii) wider consultation, before synthesising into this paper. Context-appropriate implementation of responses will be needed to capitalise 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).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-799
Number of pages18
JournalClimate policy
Issue number6
Early online date27 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors acknowledge the contributions of Tania Eulalia Martinez Cruz, David Duli, Andre Fourie, Beatrice Kabihogo, Musonda Mumba, Ruth Edma Mwizeere, Melissa Pinfield, Chantal Shalukoma, and Gary Tabor, who took part in discussions on this research. M.C.’s contribution to this research was made possible through support from the Wellcome Trust, Our Planet Our Health (Livestock, Environment and People - LEAP), award number 205212/Z/16/Z.


  • Climate change
  • biodiversity
  • human wellbeing
  • trade-off(s)
  • synergy
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Paris agreement


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