Consensus Study Report
NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001
This activity was supported by Academia Sinica, Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Carnegie Corporation of New York under award number G-21-58294, Elsevier, JPB Foundation under award number 2020-1963, the Peace Department, and the George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-69165-9
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-69165-6
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/26654
This publication is available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.
Copyright 2022 by the National Academy of Sciences. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and National Academies Press and the graphical logos for each are all trademarks of the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Operationalizing Sustainable Development to Benefit People and the Planet. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26654.
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.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president.
The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.
The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.
Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.
Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.
Proceedings published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine chronicle the presentations and discussions at a workshop, symposium, or other event convened by the National Academies. The statements and opinions contained in proceedings are those of the participants and are not endorsed by other participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies.
Rapid Expert Consultations published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are authored by subject-matter experts on narrowly focused topics that can be supported by a body of evidence. The discussions contained in rapid expert consultations are considered those of the authors and do not contain policy recommendations. Rapid expert consultations are reviewed by the institution before release.
For information about other products and activities of the National Academies, please visit www.nationalacademies.org/about/whatwedo.
COMMITTEE ON OPERATIONALIZING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
E. WILLIAM COLGLAZIER (Co-Chair), Editor-in-Chief, Science & Diplomacy, and Senior Scholar, Center for Science Diplomacy, American Association for the Advancement of Science
CHERRY MURRAY (NAS/NAE) (Co-Chair), Professor of Physics and Deputy Director for Research, Biosphere 2, The University of Arizona
ERIN BROMAGHIM, Deputy Mayor of International Affairs, Mayor’s Office of International Affairs, City of Los Angeles
HARINI NAGENDRA, Director, Professor, and Lead, Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability, Azim Premji University
NEBOJSA NAKICENOVIC, Executive Director, The World In 2050
ILONA M. OTTO, Professor, Societal Impacts of Climate Change, Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz
ALFRED WATKINS, Founder and Chairman, Global Solutions Summit
Science and Technology for Sustainability Program Staff
FRANKLIN CARRERO-MARTÍNEZ, Senior Director, Global Policy and Development and Science and Technology for Sustainability
EMI KAMEYAMA, Program Officer
DANIELLE ETHERIDGE, Administrative Assistant
PAULA TARNAPOL WHITACRE, Principal, Full Circle Communications, LLC
This page intentionally left blank.
Preface and Acknowledgments
In February 2022, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Science and Technology for Sustainability Program initiated a new study, Operationalizing Sustainable Development. This followed a series of discussions held by the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability that explored the importance of U.S. engagement on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a high-level convening during the Nobel Prize Summit Our Planet, Our Future on April 26-28, 2021, that focused on pressing global challenges: climate change and biodiversity loss, rising inequality, and rapid societal transformation enabled by emerging and converging technologies. While the pandemic and heightened geopolitical conflicts have made the achievement of the SDGs more challenging, there is a lack of shared understanding of how to operationalize sustainable development and accelerate the pace of global policy discussions. To address this challenge, a committee with a range of expertise and experience in government, academia, business, and nongovernmental organizations was convened. Brief biographies of the individual committee members are provided in Appendix A. At this moment, with many heightened concerns regarding sustainability issues, the committee was charged to produce a short consensus report that identifies key research priorities and possible actionable steps for operationalizing sustainable development. Although the report’s findings are directed toward U.S. stakeholders to consider, the committee believes they can be used by policy makers, researchers, managers, education administrators, and practitioners in the United States and globally to make a measurable difference in a sustainable future for all.
During the course of the study, the committee conducted two information-gathering workshops and committee meetings. The two public workshops
explored positive case studies for operationalizing sustainable development in eight theme areas: (1) Education and Capacity Building; (2) Localization of the SDGs and Indigenous Knowledge Networks; (3) Sustainable and Equitable Food Systems; (4) Urbanization; (5) Decarbonization; (6) Science, Technology, and Innovation; (7) Science and Peace; and (8) Financing for Sustainable Development. An agenda for each workshop is provided in Appendix B. The session on science, technology, and innovation was held as part of the side event of the 7th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum).
The committee gratefully acknowledges the following individuals for making presentations at its information-gathering workshops: Jean-Paul Adam, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa; Stephanie Arcusa, Arizona State University; Aparna Basnyat, United Nations Development Programme; Prateek Bumb, Carbon Clean; Erin Burns, Carbon180; Celeste Connors, Hawai‘i Green Growth; Kathleen Draper, International Biochair Initiative; Niki Frantzeskaki, Utrecht University; Alison Grantham, Grow Well Consulting, LLC; Adam Roy Gordon, United Nations Global Compact; Ravi Kanbur, Food System Economics Commission and Cornell University; Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh; Marianna Koval, New York University; Lykke Leonardsen, City of Copenhagen; Jannie Lilja, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute; Rachel Locke, University of San Diego; Mark McCaffrey, The Long Game; Sarah Mendelson, Carnegie Mellon University; Eduard Müller Castro, University for International Cooperation; Jan Marco Müller, European External Action Service; Lauren Muusse, World Benchmarking Alliance; Carol O’Donnell, Smithsonian Institution; Sabine O’Hara, University of the District of Columbia; Susan Parnell, University of Cape Town; Anthony Pipa, Brookings; Emilia Saiz, United Cities and Local Governments; Worajit Setthapun, Chiang Mai Rajabhat University; Roman Słowiński, Polish Academy of Sciences; Atsushi Sunami, Sasakawa Peace Foundation; Meghna Tare, The University of Texas, Arlington; Klaus Tilmes, Senior Policy Advisor and Development Consultant; and Marc Weiss, Global Urban Development. The information provided at these workshops is used throughout this report as the primary source of information from which the key research priorities and possible actionable steps were developed.
The report would not have been possible without the sponsors of this study, including Academia Sinica, Arizona State University’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Elsevier, JPB Foundation, The Peace Department, and the George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability. The committee gratefully acknowledges Dana Bourland, JPB Foundation; Amanda Ellis and Jessica Givens, Arizona State University; Ann Gabriel, Elsevier; and James Sternlicht, The Peace Department for making presentations to the committee.
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this
independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan; Mark Barteau, Texas A&M University; Anthony Chase, Occidental College; David Dzombak, Carnegie Mellon University; Garrick Louis, University of Virginia; Sarah Mendelson, Carnegie Mellon University; and Susan Parnell, University of Bristol.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by David Allen, The University of Texas at Austin. He was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
The committee is also grateful for the assistance of the National Academies staff in organizing this report. Staff members who contributed to this effort are Franklin Carrero-Martínez, senior director, Science and Technology for Sustainability Program; Emi Kameyama, program officer; and Paula Whitacre, consultant.
Finally, we especially thank the members of the committee for their tireless efforts throughout the development of this report.
E. William Colglazier and Cherry Murray, Co-Chairs
Committee on Operationalizing Sustainable Development
This page intentionally left blank.
2 EDUCATION AND CAPACITY BUILDING
3 LOCALIZATION OF THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS AND INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE
7 SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION FOR THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
9 FINANCING TO ACHIEVE THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
A Committee on Operationalizing Sustainable Development: Biographical Information