Monday 21 June, 14:30 – 16:30 (CEST)

A transdisciplinary dialogue on impactful science

What do scientists working with knowledge platforms and observatories truly think about the impact of their own work? There is a growing consensus among research practice, funding agencies and global science organisations that knowledge aimed at addressing urgent sustainability challenges, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is most effective when ‘co-produced’ transdisciplinary, by academics and non-academics. Most also agree that measuring the advancement of all 244 SDG indicators using only traditional data sources such as national censuses (which are often outdated or even politically manipulated) hinders the monitoring process of the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

An original survey will be presented, showing what more than 50 international researchers working with knowledge platforms and observatories think about the impact of their own work, and the barriers they have identified to achieve global sustainability.

And how can science be more useful to decision-makers? Awareness of global risks and challenges does not translate in automatic change of attitudes and actions. Many socio-environmental observatories (SEOs) produce rich social and/or environmental information in the long term and alert about risks, but they seldom inspire policy-making, even in times of crisis.

Our high-level Science-Policy Panel will jointly address this question and explore why, despite the decade-long efforts of sustainability science and related policy and action programmes, humanity has not gotten closer to global sustainability.

Panellists will discuss if and how science can make a difference through actionable, co-created knowledge, and which barriers still hamper systemic change. They will particularly offer their views and share their experiences on which scientific results have been more inspiring or useful to them.

Food for collective though will also include:

  1. How far should we expect scientists to guide change, and how should they interact with policy makers – legitimized by popular vote – to define transformation strategies following social values and political feasibility?
  2. How can researchers and scholars react more timely and be more responsive to the needs of policy makers and citizens, especially in times of crisis?
  3. Can socio-environmental observatories be considered as boundary objects, bridging policy-science-practice, and fostering transformative dialogue to implement the SDGs?

Programme and speakers

14:30 – 14:50 Opening

Why has it been so Difficult for Science to Inspire Global Sustainable Transitions?

Patrick Caron, Director of MAK’IT

Perceptions of Sustainability Researchers on the Impact of their Own Work – Survey results

Gabriela Litre, Associate Researcher, Center for Sustainable Development, University of Brasilia, Brazil & MAK’IT Fellow (JRU SENS & Espace-DEV)

14:50 – 15:50 Science-Policy Panel: When and how can science be useful for decision-making, and what role can Socio-Environmental Observatories play in the advancement of the SDGs?

Izabella Teixeira, Co-Chair of the United Nations’ International Resources Panel (IRP) and Former Minister of the Environment of Brazil

Seema Purushothaman, Professor and socio-environmental activist, Azim Premji University, India

Yves Sciama, Senior scientific journalist specialised in the environment and life sciences, Vice-president of the French Association of Scientific Journalists, France

Rami Zuraik, Professor, Director of the Food Security Programme and Coordinator a.I. of the Rural Community Development Programme  at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut

Ward Anseeuw, Senior researcher, CIRAD (JRU ART-Dev), France / International Land Coalition, Italy & Co-founder, Land Matrix Initiative

15:50 – 16:20 Questions from the audience

16:20 – 16:30 Closing remarks


Roel Plant, Adjunct Professor, Landscapes and Ecosystems, University of Technology Sydney & MAK’IT 2020-2021 Fellow (JRU TETIS)