Sustainability Science for UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific
Given the increasingly complex global environmental challenges, there is a need to promote interdisciplinary approaches to development. Sustainability Science, a problem-focused approach rather than discipline-focused approach, recognises that social, cultural, spiritual and traditional values are part of a broader whole that needs to be encompassed in order to engender a sustainable future. UNESCO Man And Biosphere Program (MAB) defines Sustainability Science as “an integrated, problem-solving approach that draws on the full range of scientific, traditional and indigenous knowledge in a trans-disciplinary way to identify, understand and address present and future economic, environmental, ethical and societal challenges related to sustainable development” (UNESCO MAB, 2015).
According to literature reviews, Sustainability Science adopts the following 4 components: dynamic interactions between nature and society, transdisciplinary approach, normative function, and transformational function. UNESCO thus promotes Sustainability Science among ASEAN member countries as an initiative to strengthen the interface between science and policy by promoting collaboration between Natural Sciences (SC) and Social and Human Sciences (SHS). The result of International Workshop on Sustainability Science conducted on 4-5 April 2013 in Langkawi, Malaysia shows consensus among delegates that only coordinated efforts and sustainability science-based approach to solve global challenges will bring about sustainable development.
Sustainability science is currently being promoted by UNESCO Office Jakarta through the projects Science Harnessed for ASEAN Regional Policy (SHARP). SHARP is a project designed to strengthen environmental science-policy-society interface for improved natural resource management frameworks and science policies in ASEAN countries for more sustainable and resilient futures, in this regards, with sustainability science approach, through demonstration sites.
Under SHARP, in collaboration with Sustainability Transformation Across the Region (STAR) project (click here), a framework on social perspective of Sustainability Science, referred to as Integrated Strategies Framework for Sustainability Science, has been developed based on indicators (physical – ecological indicators, socio-demographic indicators, and public policy-economic indicators), socio-environmental stressors and specific findings from the demonstration sites. This framework was developed to provide useful method and guidance to support the application of sustainability science indicators for a regional vision on sustainability actions, identify the key characteristics of communities and develop the capacity of communities in order to identify the key pathways for policy intervention.
Picture : The Integrated Strategies Framework for Sustainability Science Developed by Tahmina Rashid (2016), for UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific