How can science support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? Four tasks to tackle the normative dimension of sustainability

  • The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development stresses the fundamental role science should play in implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals endorsed by the global community. But how can and should researchers respond to this societal demand on science? We argue that answering this question requires systematic engagement with the fundamental normative dimensions of the 2030 Agenda and those of the scientific community—and with the implications these dimensions have for research and practice. We suggest that the production of knowledge relevant to sustainable development entails analytic engagement with norms and values through four tasks. First, to unravel and critically reflect on the ethical values involved in sustainability, values should increasingly become an empirical and theoretical object of sustainability research. Second, to ensure that research on social–ecological systems is related to sustainability values, researchers should reflect on and spell out what sustainability values guide their research, taking into account possible interdependencies, synergies, and trade-offs. Third, to find common ground on what sustainability means for specific situations, scientists should engage in deliberative learning processes with societal actors, with a view to jointly reflecting on existing development visions and creating new, contextualized ones. Fourth, this implies that researchers and scientific disciplines must clarify their own ethical and epistemic values, as this defines accountability and shapes identification of problems, research questions, and results. We believe that ignoring these tasks, whether one is in favor or critical of the 2030 Agenda, will undermine the credibility and relevance of scientific contributions for sustainable development.
Author:Flurina SchneiderORCiDGND, Andreas Kläy, Anne B. Zimmermann, Tobias Buser, Micah Ingalls, Peter Messerli
Parent Title (German):Sustainability science
Publisher:Springer Japan
Place of publication:Tokyo
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2019/03/06
Date of first Publication:2019/03/06
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2021/12/06
Tag:2030 Agenda; Normative dimension; Science–society interactions; Sustainability research
Page Number:12
First Page:1593
Last Page:1604
Biowissenschaften / Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
Angeschlossene und kooperierende Institutionen / Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung (ISOE)
Dewey Decimal Classification:3 Sozialwissenschaften / 30 Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie / 300 Sozialwissenschaften
3 Sozialwissenschaften / 37 Bildung und Erziehung / 370 Bildung und Erziehung
3 Sozialwissenschaften / 33 Wirtschaft / 333 Boden- und Energiewirtschaft / 333.7 Natürliche Ressourcen, Energie und Umwelt
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0