Editor’s note: This month, we are exploring the theme “from science to society” – how research and innovation are making a difference in all aspects of life. With sustainability science, this is especially true.
Sustainability may not be what you think it is. You dismiss it at your peril.
Sustainability involves more than protecting the planet, he explains:
If you think of sustainability’s impacts as primarily negative – adhering to guidelines that limit growth or prevent exploring markets – then you will be left out of a social and economic revolution that is already happening without you.
From this standpoint, Olivier found last week's MIT Sustainability Summit especially interesting:
Leaders in business, policy, research, labor and the environmental movement are talking not about the carrying capacity of land or water conservation, though these are important to sustainable ecosystems and economies (note that shared root word). Instead, they are talking investment and research – transitioning to models that take advantage of the new economy, balancing financial viability with sustainability, opening new and untrammeled marketing paths.
Olivier, Elsevier's Managing Director of Research Products, mentions the findings of Elsevier's 2015 report on sustainability science conducted with SciDev.net and issued on the eve before the UN ratified its 17 sustainable development goals. The report revealed that sustainability research was booming, creating new opportunities for research and collaboration — and technology playing a key role.
After giving examples of tech-driven sustainable business projects around the world, Olivier concludes:
Research-based innovations that solve for multiple challenges are the kind of elegant solutions that contribute to sustainable economic growth. By creating new industries and jobs, based on new ideas and markets, we establish and foster sustainable growth. ... The only non-surprise: these approaches support a healthier planet on which to live.
Olivier is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, where he explores thought-provoking areas of technology. You can read this full blog post here.
Research on science and health plays a huge role in our daily lives. This month of May 2017, we are featuring stories that showcase the theme "from science to society," beginning with how Texas A&M is using innovative tools and metrics to track the impact of its research on the world. For more stories about people and projects empowered by knowledge, we invite you to visit Empowering Knowledge.