Policy ForumSocial Science and Sustainability

Engage key social concepts for sustainability

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Science  01 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6281, pp. 38-40
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad4977

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Summary

With humans altering climate processes, biogeochemical cycles, and ecosystem functions (1), governments and societies confront the challenge of shaping a sustainable future for people and nature. Policies and practices to address these challenges must draw on social sciences, along with natural sciences and engineering (2). Although various social science approaches can enable and assess progress toward sustainability, debate about such concrete engagement is outpacing actual use. To catalyze uptake, we identify seven key social concepts that are largely absent from many efforts to pursue sustainability goals. We present existing and emerging well-tested indicators and propose priority areas for conceptual and methodological development.