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Upcoming Events

Urban Sustainability in China and the US
December 16, 2019, Washington, DC

Nobel Prize Summit 2020: Our Planet, Our Future
April 29-May 1, 2020. Washington, DC

Additional information will be forthcoming in 2020

View a list of Sustainability-related meetings at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Recent Events

Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
July 30-31, 2019, Washington, DC

Strengthening Sustainability Program at the Undergraduate and Graduate Levels
February 13, 2019, Washington, DC

Reducing Food Loss and Waste Workshop

October 17, 2018, Washington, DC

Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
December 10-11, 2014

The National Academy of Sciences
2100 C Street NW, Lecture Room
Washington, DC 

Energy Water Need for Improved DataThe most recent meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability was held on December 10-11, 2014 in Washington, DC.  As the fourth and final session of the Roundtable’s 2013-2014 initiative, the December 10th event featured panel discussions examining energy-water nexus issues, specifically improved data for water use, decision support tools, and decision-based frameworks for local and regional decision-making.  This meeting was built on progress made at the 2013 “MIT-CSIS Energy-Water-Land Nexus Workshop,” the 2013 NSF Workshop on “Developing a Research Agenda for the Energy-Water Nexus” and at the prior three roundtable sessions.  The purpose of the meeting was to encourage participants to leverage initiatives currently underway in the energy-water nexus and to encourage the application of broader sustainability frameworks to these two inter-related resource domains.  The event was convened in collaboration with the Board on Energy and Environmental Systems and Water Science and Technology Board.  A published summary of the event was issued in June 2015.  

The day was capped by a dinner speech from Carter Strickland, vice-president of HDR and a recent director of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, describing his approaches to the massive-scale issues inherent in managing environmental issues in that city of 8.4 million people.

The second day featured presentations addressing issues related to the value of social and behavioral sciences in supporting sustainability, with climate change adaptation for urban and coastal communities as a case study.  There is a growing emphasis on social and behavioral sciences and their contribution to framing sustainability issues, examining decision tools, enhancing knowledge-building and communications with relevant “publics,” and assessing governance structures and processes.  As part of this trend, there is a burgeoning of academic work, decision support development, and on-the-ground community practice that builds upon and/or draws from social sciences in relation to a sustainability framework.  The presenters reviewed examples of this growing body of research; examined decision support tools that incorporate social sciences dimensions; and provided examples that demonstrate how the social and behavioral sciences have been used to inform of the practice of sustainability. 

For the session on NRC updates, Roundtable members reviewed current STS program activities including further dissemination of Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections & Governance Linkages (consensus report released in June 2013), Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research (report forthcoming shortly), Homelessness and Urban Sustainability (workshop held November 2014), as well as the ongoing Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability.  Roundtable members provided updates on recent NRC reports, Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the US Environmental Protection Agency (2014) by the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, and Can Earth’s and Society’s Systems Meet the Needs of 10 Billion People? (2014) from the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education.  The planned 2015 STS activities, including Pathways to Urban Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities (provisional committee appointed), The Practice of Sustainability Science (workshop scheduled for 2015), and Transition toward Sustainability after 15 Years: Where Do We Stand in Advancing the Scientific Foundation? (expert meeting scheduled for 2015) were also discussed.  Roundtable members raised suggestions for future Roundtable topics and activities.

Agenda and Presentations                                                                                                     

Wednesday, December 10

9:00 am      Welcome, Introductions and Meeting Goals
                     David Dzombak (NAE), Carnegie Mellon University/Lynn Scarlett, The Nature Conservancy, STS Roundtable Co-Chairs

Addressing the Energy-Water Nexus: Need for Improved Data and Decision Support Tools

9:30 am      Overview and Introduction to Panel
                     David Dzombak (NAE), Carnegie Mellon University

9:45 am      Panel I: A Need for Improved Data on Water Use 
                     Moderator: Michael Webber, University of Texas at Austin
10:45 am    Q&A and Discussion

11:00 am    BREAK

11:15 am    Panel II: Decision Support Tools for addressing the Energy-Water Nexus 
                     Moderator: Alan Hecht, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
12:15 pm     Q&A and Discussion

12:30 pm     LUNCH

1:30 pm       Panel III: Decision-Based Frameworks for Local Decision-Making 
                      Moderator: Michael Kavanaugh (NAE), Geosyntec Consultants
2:30 pm      Q&A and Discussion

2:45 pm      Discussion and Next Steps on the Energy-Water Nexus 
                     Moderator: David Dzombak (NAE), Carnegie Mellon University

3:30 pm      BREAK

Current Activities (STS Roundtable Co-Chair)

3:45 pm      Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections and Governance Linkages
                     Lynn Scarlett, The Nature Conservancy (Presentation at the 2014 Environmental Council of the States meeting)

4:00 pm      Homelessness and Urban Sustainability: Implications of Changes to the U.S. Health System on a Vulnerable Population 
                     (Workshop held November 12, 2014)
                     Jennifer Saunders, National Research Council/Karen Anderson, Institute of Medicine

4:15 pm      Sustainability Concepts in Decision-Making: Tools and Approaches for the US Environmental Protection Agency 
                     (Report released in September 2014 by the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology) 
                     Michael Kavanaugh (NAE), Geosyntec Consultants

4:30 pm      Can Earth’s and Society’s Systems Meet the Needs of 10 Billion People? 
                     (Workshop Summary from the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, August 2014)
                     B.L. Turner II (NAS), Arizona State University

4:45 pm      STS Program and Publication Updates 
                     Richard Bissell, National Research Council

4:50 pm      Wrap up and plans for next day (STS Roundtable Co-Chairs)

5:00 pm      Adjourn

5:00 pm      Reception (NAS Rotunda)

6:00 pm      Working Dinner (NAS Members Room)
                     Speaker: Carter Strickland, Vice-President, HDR; formerly Director of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection

Thursday, December 11, 2014

9:00 am      Welcome and Feedback from Previous Day
                     STS Roundtable Co-Chairs

Sustainability and the Social Sciences: Climate Change Adaptation for Urban and Coastal Communities

9:10 am      Introduction to Panel 
                     Lynn Scarlett, The Nature Conservancy

9:15 am      Social Sciences and its Application to Urban Sustainability: Issues of Governance 
                     Terry Yosie, World Environment Center

9:45 am      Decision Support Tools that Incorporate Social Science Dimensions: Puget Sound Partnership, Floodplain Management
                     Kris Johnson, The Nature Conservancy

10:15 am    BREAK

10:30 am    Integrating Scientific and Social Information for Decision Processes: Risk Perception and Risk Management 
                     Igor Linkov, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

11:00 am    Linking Science Knowledge with Social Sciences: Adaptation to Coastal Flooding—Case of Boston
                     Paul Kirshen, University of New Hampshire

11:30 am    Q&A and Discussions

Future Activities (STS Roundtable Co-Chairs)

11:45 am    Proposals from Roundtable Members for Future Roundtable Topics 
                     All Members

12:15 pm    Wrap up (STS Roundtable Co-Chairs)

12:30 pm    Adjourn

This website contains unedited verbatim presentations made by meeting participants and is not an official report of the National Academies. Opinions and statements included in this material are solely those of the individual authors. They have not been verified as accurate, nor do they necessarily represent the views of other meeting participants, the committee, or the National Academies.