Science and business: Working together for sustainability

In what ways can science and business sectors collaborate to build sustainable societies?

This vital question was the focus of the second Global Sustainability Strategy Forum, where 25 leading experts in both sectors came together via video conference to discuss how scientists and businesses could work together more effectively. The dialogue at the forum was based on three main questions, co-developed by members of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies and Sander van der Leeuw, a distingushed sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability:

  1. How can academic research in sustainability science converge effectively with corporate sustainability strategies to design feasible, effective, and fair transformation pathways harmonizing both corporate and societal needs? What are recent examples of such collaboration and what can we learn from them?
  2. What are common priorities on which both the scientific and business communities should focus over a 5-10-year period and over the longer term?
  3. What institutional frameworks and structures at the local to regional scales would best support cooperation between sustainability scientists and business leaders to facilitate necessary transformations?

After discussing for two days, the experts decided on six conclusions including the importance of businesses and scientists closely cooperating and having the same time horizons, the significance of transparency and openness, and why successful cooperation rests on a clear understanding of each other’s role and function. The results will be summarized in a synthesis report.

Later this year, the core group plans to meet in Hanover to develop large-scale sustainability strategies and to specify how scientific institutions and universities can transfer sustainability knowledge to business communities, policymakers and civil society.