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PROGRESS, CHALLENGES, AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief
Pages 1-14

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From page 1...
... convened a virtual workshop on November 30–December 2, 2020 to examine scientific progress and gaps in sustainability science around six cross-cutting themes. These themes include the challenges of measuring progress toward sustainability; promoting equity and justice in sustainability efforts; adapting to change; moving beyond incremental change to transformational change; effectively linking knowledge with decision making; and governance of complex nature-society systems.
From page 2...
... , University of Minnesota, noted the breadth of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to inform sustainability science and policy.
From page 3...
... She underscored Fenichel's point that measurement is "not prices versus quantities, it is both." Burke showed how satellite imagery can make predictions for policy and behavior change, while Erwin's focus on regional scales points to the need to consider place-bound capitals, she said. Discussion with invited participants focused on how measurement can aid decision making and whether it illuminates or reinforces power structures.
From page 4...
... First was how the Trump administration may have used white supremacy to obscure environmental deregulation. Pulido described the President's tweets about "Mexican killers and rapists" as "spectacular racism" that obscured policy, institutional, and legal changes.
From page 5...
... , Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, described that adaptation concerns not only the dynamic interplay of people, communities, societies, and cultures but also the coevolution of people and nature as part of the biosphere and at global levels. This third panel focused on adapting to shocks and surprises in the context of the Anthropocene, where our connectivity, speed, and spread have become a force shaping the world from local to global scales in new ways, types of interactions, and dynamics.
From page 6...
... Theoretical insights can connect disparate empirical observations and help construct governance structures to deal with change, suggested Marty Anderies, Arizona State University. He began with a simple feedback loop, the fundamental building block of all complex systems, and explained power emerges when many loops are networked in different social-ecological systems.
From page 7...
... When the connection is not explicitly made, we are inside the ant's nest and do not see the whole picture." As lead-in to the next session, he stressed, "Adaptation won't be sufficient for a sustainable future for 9 to 10 billion people. Transformative change is needed." FOSTERING INNOVATION FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE Ruth DeFries (NAS)
From page 8...
... She suggested an expanded focus on understanding the role of imagination in sustainability science. Discussant Stephen Carpenter (NAS)
From page 9...
... "Transformation is the crux of sustainability," she concluded. "It is very much a scientific effort….But transformation is as much about science as about imaginations, cultures, and being practical and recognizing who has the levers to make transformative change." LINKING KNOWLEDGE WITH ACTION An important challenge is to conduct sustainability science research that supports sustainable development, reduces environmental degradation, and reduces human suffering, asserted Diana Liverman (NAS)
From page 10...
... One impactful method, she suggested, is through futures-oriented visioning and technology. At issue is to learn how to spread and support isolated interventions for transformational change.32 Small businesses, she argued, are a set of actors to accelerate and amplify uptake.
From page 11...
... He suggested this area of sustainability science may have the least developed knowledge about what works. Presenters discussed the goals of inclusion, equity, and redress, but each concept is different and not necessarily hierarchical.
From page 12...
... Sustainable futures require systemic transformation framed by narratives that reconnect development to the biosphere, he concluded. Transformation DeFries said a message from this panel is that transformation at all scales is a process with phases, not something that just "happens." Many research questions exist, but she said urgency requires learning how to find the leverage points for transformative change in any particular system.
From page 13...
... Sustainability Science as a Guide to the Pursuit of Sustainability Matson reminded the participants that the workshop was constructed for sustainability scientists to share insights with others in the sustainability research community. But, she said, she expected that some of the information could be highly useful to decision makers as well as the broader research community, and summarized some of those takeaways.
From page 14...
... , Columbia University; Carl Folke (NAS) , Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences; Robert Keohane (NAS)


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