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Flipping the Science Model

A Roadmap to Science Missions for Sustainability

This report describes and advocates for mission science for sustainability as an urgently needed new form of science for the SDGs. It also serves as a call, inviting all stakeholders, both familiar and unconventional, to unite with the science community in this endeavour of collectively catalyzing science’s power to drive transformative action towards a more sustainable world for all.

Flipping the science model

Both natural and social sciences have made significant contributions to our understanding of the challenges and issues affecting our societies and planet. Notwithstanding that, it is now clear that new approaches are urgently needed if science is to be effectively used to make rapid progress. Following the release of Unleashing Science, coordinated by the ISC, the Council established the Global Commission on Science Missions for Sustainability in 2021 to explore how these recommendations might be condensed to practice.

This report summarizes the conclusions reached after extensive consultation with experts, detailed in the accompanying TAG report “A model for implementing mission science for sustainability.” As part of the proposed shift in how we tackle the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs with greater expediency, the ISC Global Commission is calling for science in support of progress towards the SDGs to be undertaken and supported differently. We firmly believe that by better integrating science with other perspectives, we can achieve what the 2030 Agenda set out to do: creating the conditions for a fairer and more sustainable world, while living within planetary boundaries.

This will reaquire to supplement and rebalance our current scientific model, by incentivizing collaboration and outcomes between scientists, and of scientists, with other stakeholders, especially civil society, on large-scale sustainability challenges. Furthermore, the current model should shift from intense competition and fragmented science, both in terms of disciplines and funding, to building collaborative science communities.