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Sustainability is one of the major
challenges our world is currently facing. The continuously growing population
that is indispensably leading to the depletion of natural resources, climate
change, pollution and ecosystems destruction has become an alarming indicator
of the urgent need for sustainable alternatives that meet the basic human
needs.   

Because of
the accelerating advancements our planet is witnessing, the transition to
sustainability should be fast and effective to compensate for the still-increasing
negative effects that are affecting people’s lives and the environment. In
fact, the challenges that humanity is now confronting are mainly caused by the
inability to maintain a balanced relationship between human and environment.
This is why the study of sustainable science wouldn’t just involve one field,
rather it’s a multidisciplinary task that should be undertaken by actors
engaged in many different fields, such as engineering, social sciences,
humanities, law and technology. Essentially, this field of science pertains to
the study of the complex interactions between humans and their environment, but
most importantly, it also implies the use of this knowledge in order to convert
it into practical solutions. In order to do so, a multidimensional approach is
required, which certainly includes hard-core fundamental scientific research,
but also engages other disciplines that will allow us to address this challenge
at all dimensions. There’s no doubt that every field has the ability, on its
own, to contribute to the discovery of new innovative scientific and
technological solutions, however, this will fail to have any positive impact on
sustainability as long as each field is working alone. Such approach is similar
to finding one piece of the puzzle, while refusing to combine it with other
pieces found by other partners, which eventually leads to an incomplete and abstract
view of the overall situation reached. Hence, this integrative approach is
critically needed to create an all-sided perspective while tackling the
problem, allowing us to take into account other important aspects that can have
direct impact on the people and the environment. Many examples exist where
scientists have focused too narrowly on one topic, turning a blind eye on other
major issues related to this topic, which has led to major drawbacks. One
example is energy. The intensifying climate change caused by the continuous
burning of fossil fuels, which are considered the primary source of energy, has
imposed a major challenge that humanity has to face. Scientists believed that
an alternative source of energy would be biofuels, which will decrease the
emissions of greenhouse gases, hence solving the climate crisis. However, this
turned out to be less effective than planned. The research focused solely on
one aspect of the problem, which is decreasing gas emissions, while it
neglected other important characteristics that take into account other social
and environmental needs. Shifting to biofuels means taking up large land areas
that are essentially used for food production and carbon storage, to only
generate a small amount of energy. Consequently, people’s need for food were
put at risk and the planet’s biodiversity became jeopardized. Therefore,
substituting fossil fuels by biofuels turned out to be an unpractical solution
that produced more harm to the people and the planet than benefit. This drawback
is caused by the fact that scientists have failed to study the feasibility of
their solutions in relation to other social and environmental needs. It is
clear that the challenge we’re facing is not only restricted to finding a
solution to the problem per se, as much as it is to study the implementation of
this solution while avoiding unintended consequences on the environment and the
people. This clearly argues for the critical need of coordinated and
integrative efforts that should made by all related disciplines. 

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In order to
facilitate such approach, some prerequisites are needed to allow to build a
link between the different fields. Many scientific institutions have the
ability to carry out an intensive research agenda about sustainability science,
however most of them fall short in conveying this knowledge to the particular
fields due to the absence of policies that aim to facilitate interdisciplinary
coordination. Therefore, a number of changes are needed, which should engage
academic, public and private institutions. First of all, universities should
foster active interactions between their research community and other
disciplines to allow them to integrate and combine their knowledge.
Consequently, this might lead to the emergence of new disciplines that bring
together leaders who carry the strengths of more than one discipline to address
problems that every discipline on its own find itself challenged to do so. 

But an
additional leap is still required while going through this transition to sustainability.
In fact, all of these multidisciplinary efforts will not be useful as long as
knowledge and action are not interlinked. In order to translate this knowledge
into real action, a bridge should be built between researchers and decision
makers who hold the keys of bringing about actual change that will affect
people’s lives and the environment. This can be possible by allowing a
multidimensional flow of information to circulate amongst different types of
public/private institutions/research centers who hold the interest of
addressing the sustainability challenge, and who would do so more effectively
once they’re equipped with the knowledge acquired by academic research centers.
Such coordination entails building partnerships with different entities,
holding conferences and workshops, as well as developing other mechanisms to
ensure knowledge integration with all relevant parties and in all fields. This
necessarily implies the development of new policies that aim to build a
connection with the acting agencies/centers, but this certainly differs with
space and scale. For this reason, federal agencies should be engaged within
this multidirectional approach and should actively participate in encouraging
dialogue and knowledge integration within the local, national and regional
scale.   

In
conclusion, as the world is witnessing continuous degradation of the
environment caused mainly by humans, a fast and effective action should be
taken to respond to the depletion of resources that is eventually affecting
negatively people’s lives in various forms. For this reason, sustainability
science has become a core subject that is studied in many fields and in a
variety of ways. I believe that a multidimensional, coordinated and integrative
approach should be developed among all fields, programs and agencies, at
various scales, to allow us to address the problem at all dimensions. There is
no doubt that the scientific advancements humanity has achieved can guarantee
the finding of many solutions to address this challenge, however this should be
coupled with an integrated and cohesive effort that engages policies and
decision makers who will assure the actual implementation of those solutions on
the ground.

                                                                                                  

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