Solutions-Oriented Research for Global Sustainability
The United States and other countries around the world are working together to implement Future Earth, an emerging global sustainability research program that emphasizes partnerships among scientific and stakeholder communities worldwide. Bringing together and in partnership with existing international research programs—including DIVERSITAS, the International Human Dimensions Programme, IGBP, and WCRP—Future Earth supports coordinated, interdisciplinary research that can be used by decision makers seeking to advance sustainability objectives. Better integration between natural and social sciences and a strong focus on societally relevant research are key goals shared by Future Earth and USGCRP’s 2012–2021 Strategic Plan. USGCRP supports Future Earth through scientific participation in and annual funding for its constituent and partner programs.
In 2014, Future Earth released its first Strategic Research Agenda, which calls for a step-change in research to accelerate sustainable development and address serious environmental, social, and economic threats. The agenda is the product of a year-long global consultation with research communities and stakeholders from business, government, and civil society, as well as an open online survey that received contributions from people in over 70 countries. Some of the challenges that drive the agenda include supporting basic human needs while safe-guarding natural assets, promoting resilience in urban and rural areas, decoupling carbon emissions from economic growth, and encouraging sustainable production and consumption patterns. Implementation of this solutions-oriented research agenda will be overseen by an internationally distributed secretariat—including hubs in the United States, Canada, Japan, France, and Sweden—functioning as a unified entity. This cooperative effort provides a global platform for translating scientific discoveries into action.