As a part of its vision for recasting the structures of global environment and development policy, the Council considers it essential to establish an independent body endowed with universally accepted ethical and intellectual authority, and charged with identifying and assessing the risks of global change. The Council recommends to the German government that it examines the options for establishing an ‘Earth Commission’ and that it submits a corresponding proposal to the United Nations. This commission would provide the long-term perspective needed to protect environmental resources and safeguard the rights and interests of future generations, and would provide impulses for research activities and political action. A particular function of the Earth Commission could be to place on the international agenda, in a manner that catches the world’s attention, issues which would otherwise be neglected despite their vital importance.