Among the goals of the international conference, Planet under Pressure one was to provide scientific leadership for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio +20. During the conference’s four days of sessions, there were many examples of successful solutions from the local level to the national to move towards a sustainable future.
But there was also the urgent call for social sciences to partner with the biophysical and natural sciences (and vice versa) to develop new solutions. (See www.worldsccialscience.org to see what the International Social Science Council is up to). While this plea is not new there was urgency among the participants, of almost 3000 strong, to innovate – to combine media, science, policy, industry in new and innovative ways. It was inspiring and disheartening at the same time. Yes, new solutions and thinking out of the box are needed and are developing; no, the silos of economy, society and ecology are alive and well.
However, there is hope, as people who work at many levels from the local to the regional to the global see the opportunity to forge new partnerships for leadership into a greener world. The global sustainability challenge is rooted in local activities. Every placed is different so solutions must be local but local and national governments must cooperate and public and private investments are required.
PUP developed a declaration for the Rio+20 meetings. Check it out at www.planetunderpressure2012.net. You will find a number of useful policy briefs there too, each addressing the latest scientific thinking on sustainable development issues . A new initiative Future Earth was unfurled; it is purportedly a new scientific road map. Keep an eye on that; be critical and vocal to ensure that it indeed goes to places unknown for a better world.