Sustainability Science in a Global Landscape

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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?

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