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Meet human needs and protect environment?

Consider three requirements for a sustainable world. Everyone on the planet would have their basic needs met. Hunger and poverty would be substantially reduced. And, the natural systems that support life on the planet would be preserved.

Governments and politicians have talked about ‘sustainable development’ for decades.

That’s meeting human needs while protecting, even improving, the environment. But it wasn’t until the 1990s that large numbers of scientists began working toward this end. Robert Kates is co-convener of the Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability – an international network of scientists using the Internet to share ideas.

Robert Kates: Beginning in 1995, the National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council created a board on sustainable development. It said, well, let’s define what a sustainability transition would be.

Kates mentioned three requirements for a sustainable world. Everyone on the planet would have their basic needs met. Hunger and poverty would be substantially reduced. And, the natural systems that support life on the planet would be preserved.

Robert Kates: Now what role can science and technology play in that? It turns out that not everything needs new science or technology; some of the things are issues of political will and how we organize ourselves and how we govern ourselves. But there are a lot of areas where a good dose of science and technology might help. And from that was born the idea of sustainability science.

Our thanks to the National Science Foundation.

Our thanks to:
Robert Kates
Co-Convener
Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability
Trenton, ME

Deborah Byrd

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