An ad hoc committee under the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program will identify the linkages among areas such as energy, water, health, agricultural production, and biodiversity that are critical to promoting and encouraging long term sustainability within the federal policy framework, recognizing that progress towards sustainability necessarily involves other levels of government, the private sector, and civil society. The premise is that achieving sustainability (defined in the 2009 Executive Order 13514) is a systems challenge that cannot be realized by separately optimizing pieces of the system. The study will build upon existing and emerging expertise throughout the scientific and technological communities. It will describe the nexus where domains intersect but in which existing institutions and disciplines often do not intersect.
The committee will convene a series of fact finding meetings, commission expert-authored case studies, and review the pertinent literature. Based on the information gathered from these sources, the committee will produce a report with consensus findings that provides an analytical framework for decision making. This framework can be used by U.S. policy makers and regulators to assess the consequences and tradeoff/synergies of policy issues involving a systems approach to long term sustainability and decisions on sustainability-oriented programs. The framework will include social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability, highlighting certain dimensions that are sometimes left unaccounted for in cross media analyses.
The report will also:
• Recommend priority areas for interagency cooperation on specific sustainability challenges;
• Identify impediments to interdisciplinary, cross-media federal programs; and
• Highlight scientific research gaps as they relate to these interdisciplinary, cross-media approaches to sustainability.