Sustainability Science in a Global Landscape
2015 is a key year for sustainable development. Sustainability as a scientific endeavor requires broad understanding of the interconnections in our global environment. It is not surprising then, that, several development initiatives and large-scale, multi-stakeholder events are taking place to discuss international developments goals. The United Nations (UN) will adopt the post-2015 sustainable development agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN headquarters in New York this September, following on from the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In addition, international climate negotiations at the Conference of the Parties (COP21) will take place in Paris in November, where international agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will be sought. Science, technology and innovation have long been recognized as the basis for socioeconomic development. They are also core contributors to sustainable development and to meeting the SDGs. The UN has called for a “seat for science” on the High-Level Political Forum that deals with the UN’s sustainable development agenda, to ensure that “science is not just an observer but an advisor to policymakers.” " 1 This report is part of a broader, on-going effort to provide more evidence and analysis on the role of science, technology and innovation in the global agenda of sustainable development. This report examines the status of sustainability science as a research field. Throughout the report, we view “sustainable development” as a term that covers the research, programs and collaborative efforts that contribute to sustainable development, and “sustainability science” as the research that supports and drives sustainable development. Examination of the corpus of sustainability science may provide indicators of society’s progress towards the goal of sustainable development itself. The report focuses on three topics:
→ Research output and citation impact: How many publications are produced in sustainability science? How fast does the research output grow? Are the publications impactful, as indicated by field-weighted citation impact (FWCI)?
→ Research collaboration: To what extent is the research in sustainability science internationally collaborative? Do developed and developing countries partner on the research in this field? To what extent is the corporate sector involved?
→ Interdisciplinary research (IDR): What percentage of the research output in sustainability science is interdisciplinary? Which topics are the most interdisciplinary?