A global assessment of sustainability? Perspectives from the social sciences

By Joern Fischer

The International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) has recently released an interesting report. It calls for a major assessment of what the social sciences know about making human behaviour more sustainable. Based on the responses of over 1200 social scientists, the report proposes some tangible priorities in which existing research ought to be synthesised.

The report concludes:

“In brief, these results indicate that there is a large interdisciplinary group of scientists working on issues of global environmental change who feel that there is a strong need to integrate more social sciences perspectives, and who are willing to participate in the effort to do so. Their highest priority research areas were identified as equity and equality, and wealth and resource distribution; policy, political systems, governance, and political economy; economic systems,
economic costs and incentives; and globalization and social and cultural transitions.

In response to this mandate, IHDP will convene a broad group of social scientists and humanities scholars to undertake a global assessment and synthesis of social sciences and humanities findings of relevance to global environmental change. Priority research areas will include the four identified by survey respondents (see above) as well as others developed by a Science Assessment Panel. The main questions to be addressed by the Assessment will include identifying the direct and indirect drivers of unsustainable behaviors, and figuring out how to leverage societal transformations towards social and environmental sustainability.”

The full version of this report is available here.

Please note this initiative is similar in its intent to the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, about which we have an earlier blog post already.

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