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Upcoming Events

View a list of Sustainability-related meetings at The National Academies 

Past Events:

Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research
September 8-9, 2014
Washington, DC

Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability: Green Growth: USA-Portugal
June 11, 2014
Washington, DC


Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability

May 20-21, 2014
Washington, DC


Contact Us
Science and Technology for Sustainability (STS)
The National Academies
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: (202) 334-2694
Fax: (202) 334-3094
E-mail:
Sustainability@nas.edu


 



Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability  

Established in 2002, the National Academies' Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability provides a forum for sharing views, information, and analyses related to harnessing science and technology for sustainability. Members of the Roundtable include senior decision-makers from the U.S. government, industry, academia, and non-profit organizations who deal with issues of sustainable development, and who are in a position to mobilize new strategies for sustainability.

The goal for the Roundtable is to mobilize, encourage, and use scientific knowledge and technology to help achieve sustainability goals and to support the implementation of sustainability practices. Three overarching principles are used to guide the Roundtable's work in support of this goal. First, the Roundtable focus on strategic needs and opportunities for science and technology to contribute to the transition toward sustainability. Second, the Roundtable focus on issues for which progress requires cooperation among multiple sectors, including academia, government (at all levels), business, nongovernmental organizations, and international institutions. Third, the Roundtable focus on activities where scientific knowledge and technology can help to advance practices that contribute directly to sustainability goals, in addition to identifying priorities for research and development (R&D) inspired by sustainability challenges.

The Roundtable has adopted a two-pronged strategy to address sustainability. The first part of this strategy attempts to define inter-sectoral dynamics essential to long-term science and technology approaches to sustainability. The second looks to apply these approaches and concepts to sustainability challenges.

Focus on Long-Term Science and Technology Strategy for Sustainability

Acknowledging that sustainability is an interdisciplinary topic that crosses domains, sectors, and institutions, the Roundtable launched a series of discussions to outline the major connections between human and environmental systems. In 2012, the Roundtable focused on issues related to sustainable energy and materials, holding two related events. In 2013-2014, the Roundtable continued to address sustainable energy issues, by examining key questions including data and partnerships needs for addressing the energy-water nexus. Three events were held in June 2013, December 2013 and May 2014, and an additional event is being planned for late 2014. 

Applied Sustainability
As a second area of programmatic emphasis, the Roundtable is sharpening its focus on sustainability challenges in applied situations where STS works with specific communities within our Roundtable membership.

The Roundtable is the key component of the Science and Technology for Sustainability (STS) Program in the Policy and Global Affairs Division at the National Research Council. The STS Program has become a gateway to the National Academies’ rich portfolio of sustainability related programs. The Roundtable is supported by the National Academies’ George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability.  
 


STS Roundtable: Past Meetings

May 20-21, 2014
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]

December 5-6, 2013
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]
[Meeting Summary]

June 6-7, 2013

Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]
[Meeting Summary]

December 6, 2012
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]
[Meeting Summary]

June 27, 2012
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]
[
Meeting Summary]

November 16-17, 2011
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]

[Meeting Summary]

May 5-6, 2011
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]

October 27-28, 2010
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]

May 6-7, 2010
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]

September 23-24, 2009

Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]

April 1-2, 2009
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]

June 19-20, 2008
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda]

October 18-19, 2007
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda]

August 31, 2006 
Roundtable Breakout Session on Sustainability Metrics/Indicators
[Agenda]

August 31, 2006
Roundtable Breakout Session on Urban/Rural Sustainability
[Agenda]

June 1-2, 2006
Rebuilding for Health, Sustainability, and Disaster Preparedness in the Gulf Coast Region
[Agenda]

May 16-17, 2006
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]

June 15, 2004
Meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
[Agenda and Presentations]

June 14, 2004
Environmental Regulation and its Alternatives
[Agenda and Summary]



STS Roundtable: Publications

Book CoverPathways to Urban Sustainability: Research and Development on Urban Systems (2010)
More than half of the world's people now live in cities. In the U.S., the figure is 80 percent. It is worthwhile to consider how this trend of increased urbanization, if inevitable, could be made more sustainable. One fundamental shortcoming of urban research and programs is that they sometimes fail to recognize urban areas as systems. Current institutions and actors are not accustomed to exploring human-environment interactions, particularly at an urban-scale. The fact is that these issues involve complex interactions, many of which are not yet fully understood. Thus a key challenge for the 21st century is this: How can we develop sustainable urban systems that provide healthy, safe and affordable environments for the growing number of Americans living in cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas? To address this question, the National Research Council organized a workshop exploring the landscape of urban sustainability research programs in the United States. The workshop is summarized in this volume.

Book CoverCertifiably Sustainable?: The Role of Third-Party Certification Systems: Report of a Workshop(2010)
Consumption of goods and services represents a growing share of economic activity globally. This trend of increasing consumption has brought with it negative consequences for the environment and human well-being. Third-party certification systems have emerged over the last 15 years as a tool with some promise. There has been anecdotal evidence of success, but to date the overall impact of certified goods and services has been small. Moreover, definitions of sustainable vary across sectors and markets, and rigorous assessments of these programs have been few and far between.  In order to take a step in learning from this field of practice, the National Academies’ Science and Technology for Sustainability Program held a workshop, summarized in this volume, to illuminate the decision making process of those who purchase and produce certified goods and services. 

Book CoverExpanding Biofuel Production: Sustainability and the Transition to Advanced Biofuels: Summary of a Workshop (2010)
While energy prices, energy security, and climate change are front and center in the national media, these issues are often framed to the exclusion of the broader issue of sustainability--ensuring that the production and use of biofuels do not compromise the needs of future generations by recognizing the need to protect life-support systems, promote economic growth, and improve societal welfare. Thus, it is important to understand the effects of biofuel production and use on water quality and quantity, soils, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, public health, and the economic viability of rural communities.


Book Cover

Enhancing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Partnerships: Summary of a Workshop (2009)
Sustainable development--meeting human needs while nurturing and restoring the planet's life support systems--requires a continuous process of scientific innovation, new knowledge and learning, and collaborative approaches to implementing technologies and policies. To address these challenges, different stakeholder groups are increasingly seeking to ally themselves through partnership, in order to implement projects, deliver services, establish secure funding mechanisms, and achieve on the ground results. Advocates of this collaborative approach point to the failure of governmental regulations, international commitments, or business as usual. However, skeptics often question the effectiveness of partnerships at achieving sustainable development goals and, in the absence of demonstrated results, wonder where partnerships are adding value. A symposium held in June 2008 and summarized in this volume, attempted to advance the dialogue on partnerships for sustainability in order to catalyze existing knowledge and inform future efforts. Ideas that came out of discussions at the symposium will help leaders in government, the private sector, foundations and NGOs, and universities, both in the United States and internationally, as they develop and participate in new partnerships for sustainability.

Book Cover

Transitioning to Sustainability Through Research and Development on Ecosystem Services and Biofuels, Workshop Summary (2008)
The National Research Councils Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability hosted Transitioning to Sustainability through Research and Development on Ecosystem Services and Biofuels: The National Academies First Federal Sustainability Research and Development Forum on October 17-18, 2007. The forum discussed sustainability research and development activities related to ecosystem services and biofuels. The objective of the forum was to identify research gaps and opportunities for collaboration among federal agencies to meet the challenges to sustainability posed by the need to maintain critical ecosystem services, to support the development of alternatives to conventional fossil fuels, and to manage oceans and coastal areas. The forum focused primarily on federal activities, but included the participation of representatives from the private sector, universities, and nongovernmental organizations. This book is a summary of the discussions from the forum.

Book CoverLinking Knowledge with Action for Sustainable Development: The Role of Program Management-Summary of a Workshop(2006)
This report summarizes a workshop organized by the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability. The workshop brought together a select group of program managers from the public and private sectors to discuss specific cases of linking knowledge to action in a diverse set of integrated observation, assessment, and decision support systems. Workshop discussions explored a wide variety of experiments in harnessing science and technology to goals of promoting development and conserving the environment. Participants reflected on the most significant challenges that they have faced when trying to implement their programs and the strategies that they have used to address them successfully. The report summarizes discussions at the workshop, including common themes about the process of linking knowledge with actions for sustainable development that emerged across a wide range of cases, sectors, and regions. 

Book CoverOur Common Journey: A Transition Toward Sustainability(1999)
World human population is expected to reach upwards of 9 billion by 2050 and then level off over the next half-century. How can the transition to a stabilizing population also be a transition to sustainability? How can science and technology help to ensure that human needs are met while the planet's environment is nurtured and restored? Our Common Journey examines these momentous questions to draw strategic connections between scientific research, technological development, and societies'  efforts to achieve environmentally sustainable improvements in human well being. The book argues that societies should approach sustainable development not as a destination but as an ongoing, adaptive learning process. Speaking to the next two generations, it proposes a strategy for using scientific and technical knowledge to better inform future action in the areas of fertility reduction, urban systems, agricultural production, energy and materials use, ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation, and suggests an approach for building a new research agenda for sustainability science.Our Common Journey documents large-scale historical currents of social and environmental change and reviews methods for what if analysis of possible future development pathways and their implications for sustainability. The book also identifies the greatest threats to sustainability--in areas such as human settlements, agriculture, industry, and energy--and explores the most promising opportunities for circumventing or mitigating these threats. It goes on to discuss what indicators of change, from children''s birth-weights to atmosphere chemistry, will be most useful in monitoring a transition to sustainability.


 

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