Bouncing Forward Sustainably – the IIASA-ISC Consultative Science Platform

Starting in May 2020, the ISC and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) launched the IIASA-ISC Consultative Science Platform: Bouncing Forward Sustainably: Pathways to a post-COVID World.

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The platform drew on the combined strengths, expertise and large scientific communities of the two organizations to come up with a set of insights and recommendations. The insights resulted from a series of twelve consultative meetings with more than 200 thematic experts and thought leaders from the scientific community and private sector from all regions of the world.

The platform was informed and supported by an advisory board under the patronage of the former UN Secretary-General, HE Ban Ki-moon, and Chair of The Elders, HE Mary Robinson. The initiative also included partners such as the Ban Ki-moon Centre, Future Earth, the Earth League and the Vienna Energy Forum, and operated within the goals and objectives set out in existing global agreements such as the Paris Agreement, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the New Urban Agenda and the Sendai Framework.

The results are showcased on the multimedia website Transformations Within Reach: Pathways to a Sustainable and Resilient World, which shares the findings and recommendations from the consultative platform through five reports, as well as webinars and interviews. The website includes related content such as ‘A sustainable post-COVID future’, published by Heide Hackmann and Leena Srivastava, IIASA Deputy Director General for Science, in Nature Sustainability.

The four main themes of the consultation were:

  1. Governance for sustainability, chaired by Adebayo Olukoshi, Director for Africa and West Asia at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. The resulting report provides recommendations on enhancing governance for sustainability and risk management at different levels of governance: global, national-local systems, and multilevel governance which connects global and national-local levels.
  2. Strengthening science systems, chaired by Lidia Brito, Director of UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean. The outcomes of this consultation argue for changes that address the need to strengthen transdisciplinary research on critical risks; enhance the diffusion of knowledge within the science system; increase the capacity of the science system to respond rapidly with high-quality research; improve the science-policy interface; and enhance public understanding and trust in science.
  3. Sustainable energy, chaired by Hans Olav Ibrekk, Policy Director, Section for Energy and Climate, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-Facilitator, Technical Advisory Group, SDG 7. The report argues that actionable transformations should address the drivers of demand and consumption through measures like remote working, digitalization, and the reshaping of urban spaces and their use; maximizing sustainable energy independence; and influencing behaviour towards responsible consumption.
  4. Resilient food systems, chaired by Ismail Serageldin, Founding Director and Emeritus Librarian of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and ISC Patron. The resulting report argues that the emphasis on efficiency, which has been driving to a large part the evolution of food systems, needs to be counter-balanced by a greater emphasis on resilience and equity concerns.

The synthesis report asks how the multi-trillion dollar COVID-19 recovery packages can be channelled to rebuild a world that is simultaneously more sustainable and resilient. The answer, it says, is that only systemic thinking and approaches can ensure that this investment can create the structural changes required for longer term sustainability and resilience.

This project was informed and supported by ISC Patrons Mary Robinson, who chaired the Advisory Board, and Ismail Serageldin, who chaired the consultation on Resilient food systems.

A possible second phase of the project is under investigation with IIASA and will be discussed by the Advisory Board in mid-2021.


Next up: Special Envoy for Science in Global Policy ▶

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