“Bouncing Forward Sustainably: Pathways to a post-COVID world”

One question dominated science-policy discussions more than any other in 2021: how could the multi-trillion-dollar COVID-19 recovery packages be implemented in a way that would support resilience and sustainability for the long term?

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)-ISC Consultative Science Platform ‘Bouncing Forward Sustainably: Pathways to a post-COVID world’ mobilized the science communities of both the IIASA and the ISC to design sustainability pathways for the COVID-19 recovery period and beyond. Four thematic reports were released in January 2021: Enhancing Governance for Sustainability; Strengthening Science Systems; Rethinking Energy Solutions; and Resilient Food Systems, as well as a Synthesis Report which emphasized the need for ‘systemic transformative changes’.

‘The COVID-19 pandemic brought science to the centre of public attention and to policy-making. Researchers and scholars – from diverse fields – engaged increasingly with the public and with policy-makers. We need to build on this experience to develop more effective science–policy–society interactions and get researchers to recognize that going beyond just ‘discovery’ – incorporating communication and engagement with citizens and with policy-makers – is valuable and necessary.’

Heide Hackmann, speaking in an interview for Nature Sustainability alongside Leena Srivastava, Deputy Director General for Science at the IIASA

The project also resulted in a policy brief for the G20: From Pathogens to people: Enhancing reporting and surveillance for more effective control of disease outbreaks, published in September 2021, an article in Current Research in Environmental Sustainability, and interventions by the IIASA at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting and at the UN Food Systems Summit.

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