New Research Programme for Sustainable Decision-making

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A new research programme, Real Change, is now being launched. It aims to support the world’s decision-makers in their promotion of sustainability and at ensuring that their decision-making will rest on scientific foundations leading to – real change.

The initiative comes from the Blekinge Institute of Technology, the Natural Step and Lund University, with the Swedish Energy Agency, Formas (the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning), the National Environmental Protection Agency, Nutek (the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth) and VINNOVA (the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovative Systems) as funding agencies. The kick-off, in Stockholm on 9th May, will be attended by H. M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (patron of The Natural Step), scientists, and representatives of national authorities and the business community.

The wellbeing of society and the natural environment hinges on a swift transition to social and ecological sustainability. No single challenge such as climate change, pollution, destruction of forests, famine or terrorism can be regarded as "biggest", and no challenge can be addressed in isolation from the others. The biggest challenge is that of making firmly based decisions emanating from an understanding of the interrelationships and of the necessity of making each investment lay the foundations of the next one. This can be learned. Real Change is to support the promotion of sustainability, ensure that decisions and policy measures are scientifically based and further develop research in systematic thinking for sustainability.

"Society’s transition to sustainability demands and facilitates innovation", says Göran Broman, Professor at the Blekinge Institute of Technology and Real Change’s Programme Director. "We need renewal and co-ordination of knowledge, competence, technique, business models and public functions. This is an important growth area, and the purpose of Real Change is to press forward with that kind of innovation for sustainability."

Real Change is based on a methodology of systematic planning for sustainability which The Natural Step initiated at the beginning of the 1990s. The methodology is unique in that it functions as a lingua franca of strategic sustainable development irrespective of activity and scale. More and more are now adopting this working approach. The participants will collaborate on an interdisciplinary and intersectoral basis to develop the methodology and ratchet up co-operation for concrete sustainable development.

"A unique Swedish methodology is now uniting scientists, business enterprise and politicians in a systematic pursuit of sustainability," says Karl-Henrik Robèrt, Chairman of the Real Change Steering Group, Associate Professor at the Blekinge Institute of Technology and founder of The Natural Step.

"Real Change is an important cog in the task of proceeding from words to action in environmental co-operation," says Erik Fellenius, Director of Research at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. "We find something particularly interesting about sustainability research which mobilises a host of agents in the community, thereby contributing towards a holistic view of things."

At the kick-off ceremony, 120 scientists and policy-makers from all over the world will gather to discuss and further develop the methodology which people have already been using in their hundreds of thousands. Five companies (Nike, Scandic, Interface, Aura light, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics) and a region of Canada (Whistler) are among the organisations which will be represented at the kick-off on 9th May. Instead of waiting for better political decisions, they are laying the foundations of them.

Via:(the Natural Step )

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