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Upcoming Events

Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research
May 13-14, 2014
Washington, DC

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

Past Events:

Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
December 5-6, 2013
Washington, DC

Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability
November 12, 2013
Washington, DC

Best Practices for Risk-Informed Remedy Selection, Closure, and Post-Closure Control of Contaminated Sites
October 30-31, 2013
Washington, DC

Energy Water Considerations for the Sustainable Reuse and Recycling of Materials
September 10, 2013
Washington, DC

Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections & Governance Linkages
July 24, 2013
Davis, CA

Pathways to Urban Sustainability: A Focus on Portland
May 28-29, 2013
Portland, OR

Contact Us
Science and Technology for Sustainability (STS)
The National Academies
500 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: (202) 334-2694
Fax: (202) 334-3094


Corn Sweetlips Houston with waterway Smiling Boy

Science and Technology for Sustainability (STS) Program

The long-term goal of the National Academies’ Science and Technology for Sustainability (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. The program examines issues at the intersection of the three sustainability pillars—social, economic, and environmental—and aims to strengthen science for decision-making related to sustainability.  The program concentrates on activities that are crosscutting in nature; require expertise from multiple disciplines; are important in both the United States and internationally; and engage multiple sectors, including academia, government, industry, and non-governmental organizations.  The program’s focus is on sustainability issues that have science and technology at their core, particularly those that would benefit substantially from more effective applications of science and technology.

The STS Program is in the Policy and Global Affairs Division of the National Academies. 


Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections and Governance LinkagesA new National Research Council report provides a decision framework which can be used by policymakers to examine the consequences, tradeoffs, synergies, and operational benefits of sustainability-oriented programs. The committee identifies linkages among areas such as energy, water, land, and nonrenewable resources that are critical to promoting and encouraging long term sustainability within the federal policy framework, recognizing that progress towards sustainability involves many institutions. The report also recommends priority areas for interagency cooperation on specific sustainability challenges; identifies impediments to interdisciplinary, cross-media federal programs; and highlights scientific research gaps as they relate to these interdisciplinary, cross-media approaches to sustainability. A booklet provides a short summary of the report. Watch the report launch, held on July 24, 2013, at the University of California, Davis.

Sustainability and the U.S. EPA 

Book CoverA 2011 report from the National Research Council presents a framework for incorporating sustainability into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s principles and decision making.  The framework, which was requested by EPA, is intended to help the agency better assess the social, environmental, and economic impacts of various options as it makes decisions. The report is available to download from the National Academies Press. A report in brief provides a short summary of the report.


Watch the video!

A National Academies Symposium: Science, Innovation, and Partnerships for Sustainability Solutions
The National Research Council’s Science and Technology for Sustainability Program organized a two and a half day public symposium, Science, Innovation, and Partnerships for Sustainability Solutions. During the symposium, experts examined the National Science Foundation’s and other Federal agencies’ investments in research related to sustainability, including the most significant outcomes of these investments. In addition, participants identified opportunities and key priorities to enhance the link between science and decision making and to help encourage practices that would promote sustainability; and to foster partnerships and linkages between disciplines, sectors and agencies. 
View video and presentations from the symposium.     
Pathways to Urban Sustainability: A Focus on the Portland Region
For more than 40 years, the City of Portland and the Portland Metropolitan Region have been national leaders in urban policies and investments intended to revitalize the central city and adjacent neighborhoods, preserve the environment, improve equity, and make the city more economically competitive and livable. The “Portland brand” has been both emulated as path breaking and discounted as overly idiosyncratic. Among the elements contributing to Portland’s success have been strong public-private partnerships, a culture of planning, and a willingness to implement diverse ideas generated by academics, consultants, companies, and government agencies. Regionally, Portland has benefited from its location in the middle of the progressive Cascadia Corridor, stretching from Vancouver, BC, to San Francisco. Against this vibrant backdrop, this National Academies Workshop used examples from Portland and the Northwest US / SW Canada region to explore critical questions about the future of urban sustainability. The meeting was organized into four sessions over two days. Session 1 provided background about Portland and Cascadia, emphasizing policy innovations and lessons that are potentially transferable elsewhere. Session 2 focused on ways to leverage local success through partnerships with state and federal agencies, companies, and non-government organizations, including the possibility of creating one or more interagency and multi-sector National Laboratories that gather, test, and disseminate best urban practices. Session 3 asked how cutting-edge academic and corporate scientific and engineering research can help cities to become more sustainable. Finally, Session 4 addressed the challenging question of how financially strapped cities, with the assistance of private foundations, can become agents for achieving broader societal goals not directly linked to their operational mandates, such as climate change mitigation, energy independence, poverty alleviation, and the preservation of biodiversity.                                                              

Current Activities

Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability 
Established in 2003, the STS Roundtable provides a forum for sharing views, information, and analysis related to harnessing science and technology for sustainability. Members of the Roundtable include senior decision-makers from 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.

Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability (NELS)   
Launched in 2008, NELS is an event series for early career professionals from federal and local agencies, the National Research Council, NGOs, private sector and foundations, in the Washington DC area. The Network includes leaders with diverse backgrounds and expertise, from natural resource management to energy policy to public health. Through NELS, these emerging leaders foster relationships that enable them to more effectively bring about a sustainable future.
Building the Foundations of Sustainability at the Academies
A monthly e-newsletter Sustainability at the Academies provides updates highlighting activities related to sustainable development throughout the National Academies.    
Sponsor-Requested Workshops and Studies
Sponsored studies that enlist the nation’s foremost scientists, engineers, health professionals, and other experts to address the scientific and technical aspects of sustainable development.

To learn more about sustainability activities, both in the STS program and throughout the other boards and committees of the National Academies, please view the list of publicationsupcoming meetings and ongoing studies.

Comments about this web site are appreciated.  



  Reports & Summaries   
Energy Water Waste Cover

Energy and Water Considerations for the Sustainable Reuse and Recycling of Materials


Roundtable EW Summary Cover

Sustainable Energy and Materials: Addressing the Energy-Water Nexus

Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections and Governance Linkages

Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections and Governance Linkages



Critical Materials Cover

Critical Materials for Energy Sustainability and Technology: A Focus on Material Recovery

December 2012 RT Summary Report Cover

Developing Sustainable and Resilient Energy Systems

Book CoverPathways to Urban Sustainability: A Focus on the Houston Metropolitan Region


Sustainable Energy and Materials Cover

Sustainable Energy and Materials: Assessing the Landscape


NSF Report Cover

Partnerships, Science, and Innovation for Sustainability Solutions


Japan-US Workshop Cover

Japan-U.S. Workshop on Sustainable Energy Futures


Book CoverSustainable Considerations for Procurement Tools and Capabilities: Summary of a Workshop

Waste Heat Cover

Energy Sustainability: Waste Heat Recovery


Food Security CoverA Sustainability Challenge: Food Security for All

Book Cover
Pathways to Urban Sustainability: The Atlanta Metropolitan Region


Book CoverPathways to Urban Sustainability: Research and Development on Urban Systems


Book CoverCertifiably Sustainable?: The Role of Third-Party Certification Systems: Report of a Workshop 

Book CoverExpanding Biofuel Production:
Sustainability and the Transition to Advanced Biofuels: Summary of a Workshop

Book CoverEnhancing the Effectivness of Sustainability Partnerships: Summary of a Workshop


Book CoverTransitioning to Sustainability Through Research and Development on Ecosystem Services and Biofuels, Workshop Summary  


Call for Sustainability Science PapersView Recent PNAS Sustainability Science Articles