The Field of Sustainability Science


The field of sustainability science is hugely diverse and rapidly expanding, making any effort to provide a comprehensive set of links delightfully futile. The Program directors have found the following to be particularly helpful:

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ Sustainability Science section
PNAS’ section dedicated to sustainability science publishes some of the key scientific research on both the fundamental character of interactions among humans, their technologies, and the environment, and on the use of such knowledge to advance sustainability goals relevant to water, food, energy, health, habitation, mobility, and ecosystem services.

Readings in Sustainability Science and Technology
The literature relevant to science and technology for sustainable development is vast. In this invaluable paper, Robert Kates, one of the founders of the field of sustainability science, provides an annotated guide to how to think about the field, and the key papers that provide a gateway to it.

Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy – Researchers Toolkit
The Researchers Toolkit provides access to sustainability data and resources, including a database of academic programs in sustainability, profiles of sustainability experts, sustainability datasets from the US government, and sustainability related dissertations.

National Academies’ Science and Technology for Sustainability Program
STS, in the division of Policy and Global Affairs, was established to encourage the use of science and technology to achieve long term sustainable development. The goal of the STS program is to contribute to sustainable improvements in human well-being by creating and strengthening the strategic connections between scientific research, technological development, and decision-making.

Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability
NELS is an organization for early-career professionals (and professionals who are new to the topic of sustainability) who are interested in building bridges with peers in DC-area agencies and organizations. The Network includes leaders with diverse backgrounds and expertise, from natural resource management to energy policy to public health. NELS members share a common interest in taking a multidisciplinary approach to sustainability challenges -considering the economic, environmental, social, and cultural dimensions of these problems.

The Science and Development Network aims to help individuals and organizations in the developing world make informed decisions on science- and technology-related issues that impact on social and economic development. The Network seeks to achieve this by enhancing the provision of reliable and authoritative information on such issues, in particular by operating a free-access Web site containing news, views and analysis about science and technology in the developing world.

Earth Systems Science Partnership
The four international global environmental change research programmes: DIVERSITAS: An international programme on biodiversity science, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, and the World Climate Research Programme have joined together to form the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP). The ESSP brings together researchers from diverse fields, and from across the globe, to undertake an integrated study of the Earth System: its structure and functioning; the changes occurring to the System; the implications of those changes for global and regional sustainability.

Sustainability Science Program at Harvard University

Additional Sustainability Science Program Links

For Sustainable development more broadly....

International Institute for Sustainable Development
IISD is an NGO that provides one of the most comprehensive overviews of activities and publications related to sustainable development. It also has a long history of conducting cutting-edge research into sustainable development. The institute champions global sustainable development through innovation, research and relationships that span the entire world. It is devoted to the ongoing communication of its findings as it engages decision-makers in business, government, non-government organizations and other sectors.

World Business Council on Sustainable Development
The WBCSD is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. Together with its members, the council applies its respected thought leadership and effective advocacy to generate constructive solutions and take shared action.

UN Division for Sustainable Development
The Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) provides leadership and is an authoritative source of expertise within the United Nations system on sustainable development. It promotes sustainable development as the substantive secretariat to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and through technical cooperation and capacity building at international, regional and national levels. The context for the Division's work is the implementation of Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

World Bank Sustainable Development Network
Much of the World Bank’s work in sustainable development is piloted via an internal grouping of departments, the Sustainable Development Network. It focuses on supporting our clients, directly or via the Bank’s Regional units, on the complex agenda of sustainable development. SDN’s work covers a wide range of economic sectors: agriculture and rural development, energy, transport, water, environment, urban development, social development, oil, gas, mining, and chemicals, information and communication technologies and sub-national activities. Its agenda embraces the "triple bottom line" of sustainability – economic, environmental and social – as well as anticipates and addresses major trends such as climate change, natural resource depletion, food scarcity, and urban expansion.

Suggestions for other links are welcome.