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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Transitioning Toward Sustainability

ADVANCING THE
SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATION

Proceedings of a Workshop

Dominic Brose, Yasmin Romitti, Ryan Anderson, and Alison Macalady, Rapporteurs

Committee on Transition Toward Sustainability after 15 Years:
Where Do We Stand in Advancing the Scientific Foundation

Science and Technology for Sustainability Program

Policy and Global Affairs

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Division on Earth and Life Studies

images

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This report and the workshop on which it was based were supported by the George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability Science.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-44375-3
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-44375-X
Digital Object Identifier: 10.17226/23533

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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/23533.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
×

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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
×

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Reports document the evidence-based consensus of an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and committee deliberations. Reports are peer reviewed and are approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Proceedings chronicle the presentations and discussions at a workshop, symposium, or other convening event. The statements and opinions contained in proceedings are those of the participants and are not necessarily endorsed by other participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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COMMITTEE ON THE TRANSITION TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY AFTER 15 YEARS: WHERE DO WE STAND IN ADVANCING THE SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATION

David Dzombak (NAE) (Chair), Hamerschlag University Professor and Head, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Joseph Arvai, Max McGraw Professor of Sustainable Enterprise and Director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, University of Michigan

Kristie L. Ebi, Professor, Department of Global Health and Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington

Thomas Graedel (NAE), Clifton R. Musser Professor of Industrial Ecology, Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Director of the Center for Industrial Ecology, Yale University

Roberta Marinelli, Executive Director, Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Southern California

Prabhu Pingali (NAS), Professor, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; Founding Director, Tata-Cornell Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative, Cornell University

Susan Trumbore (NAS), Director, Department of Biogeochemical Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Staff

Jerry Miller, Director, Science and Technology for Sustainability Program

Amanda Staudt, Director, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Dominic Brose, Program Officer, Science and Technology for Sustainability Program

Alison Macalady, Associate Program Officer, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Emi Kameyama, Program Associate, Science and Technology for Sustainability Program

Yasmin Romitti, Research Assistant, Science and Technology for Sustainability Program

Ryan Anderson, Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellow

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
×

Preface and Acknowledgments

In 1999 the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a landmark report, Our Common Journey: A Transition Toward Sustainability, which attempted to “reinvigorate the essential strategic connections between scientific research, technological development, and societies’ efforts to achieve environmentally sustainable improvements in human well-being.” The report emphasized the need for systems approaches to sustainability, proposed a research strategy for using scientific and technical knowledge to better inform the field, and highlighted a number of priorities for actions that could contribute to a sustainable future. More than 15 years later, the scholarship and practice of sustainability has matured, making it timely to reflect on how the recommendations of Our Common Journey have been implemented. To facilitate this reflection with leading scientists in the field of sustainability science, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop on January 14–15, 2016. The workshop was a collaboration between the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program and the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate.

This Proceedings of a Workshop was prepared by the workshop rapporteurs as a factual proceedings of what was presented and discussed at the workshop. The planning committee’s role was limited to planning and convening the workshop. The statements made are those of the rapporteurs and do not necessarily represent positions of the workshop participants as a whole, the planning committee, or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. We wish to extend a sincere thanks to all the members of the planning committee for their contributions in scoping, developing, and carrying out this project.

This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments to assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and ensure the report meets institutional standards for quality and objectivity. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Andrew Hoffman, University of Michigan; Anthony Janetos, Boston University; Roberta Marinelli, University of Southern California; Stephen Polasky, University of Minnesota; and Billie Turner, Arizona State University. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of this report, nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Lynn Scarlett, Nature Conservatory. Appointed by the Academies, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the rapporteurs and the institution.

Jerry Miller, Director, Science and Technology for Sustainability Program
Amanda Staudt, Director, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
×
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transitioning Toward Sustainability: Advancing the Scientific Foundation: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23533.
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In 1999 the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a landmark report, Our Common Journey: A Transition toward Sustainability, which attempted to “reinvigorate the essential strategic connections between scientific research, technological development, and societies’ efforts to achieve environmentally sustainable improvements in human well-being.”1 The report emphasized the need for place-based and systems approaches to sustainability, proposed a research strategy for using scientific and technical knowledge to better inform the field, and highlighted a number of priorities for actions that could contribute to a sustainable future.

The past 15 years have brought significant advances in observational and predictive capabilities for a range of natural and social systems, as well as development of other tools and approaches useful for sustainability planning. In addition, other frameworks for environmental decision making, such as those that focus on climate adaptation or resilience, have become increasingly prominent. A careful consideration of how these other approaches might intersect with sustainability is warranted, particularly in that they may affect similar resources or rely on similar underlying scientific data and models.

To further the discussion on these outstanding issues, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop on January 14–15, 2016. Participants discussed progress in sustainability science during the last 15 years, potential opportunities for advancing the research and use of scientific knowledge to support a transition toward sustainability, and challenges specifically related to establishing indicators and observations to support sustainability research and practice. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

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