Headline: Third Global Sustainability Strategy Forum - final Event: Sustainability, the Covid Crisis and the role and responsibility of Science

The current Covid Pandemic brings to the fore the urgent need to address sustainability as a global, complex, systemic and societal problem.

The current sustainability crisis is not an environmental but a societal one. The task of society is to enable people to live within the dynamics that govern our environment. Currently, society is no longer up to that task. As a result of an accumulation of unin-tended consequences of collective decisions made in the past, its institutions are over-whelmed and are no longer able to deal with the dynamics societies have generated. They predominantly make short-term decisions rather than design a strategy that deals with the longer-term issues. If the world does not profoundly change its values to deal with the sustainability conundrum, when we encounter other pandemics, financial crises, etc., we will again be thrown into a devastating crisis affecting the lives of millions worldwide.

Solutions to complex, interconnected sustainability challenges cannot be found solely through technological advancement and innovation. Engaging substantively between the academic strengths of sciences, humanities and the needs of the other sectors of the society (Businesses, Governements, Civil Society) is essential for being able to address the integrated social, economic, and technical sustainability problems effectively. Working together, we need to identify and learn to operate the leverage points that can bring about substantive change in critical factors and thus move all sectors and components of society toward sustainable futures with justice and equity. Science and scientific institutions have a major role and responsibility in this process. Those topics are at the heart of the third Global Sustainability Strategy Forum (GSSF).

The third and final Forum will be held in Hannover Germany from 14 October to the evening of 16 October 2020. It will focus on the responsibility of scientific institutions and administrations in the context of the pandemic to address the sustainability issue. We will specify the role of scientific institutions (such as universities and science academies) in facilitating the access and usability of sustainability knowledge for business communities, policymakers and the civil society. 

In Hannover, the Forum's core group of scientists will reconvene and engage with international leading experts from the business, government, civil society and scientific institutions to develop innovative perspectives and design sustainability strategies at global and regional levels on the following issues:

1. Science-policy nexus: In the context of the pandemic, how can academic research in sustainability science produce the necessary knowledge and orientation that in-spire and inform polices to facilitate feasible, effective, resilient and fair transfor-mation pathways towards sustainable practices?

2. Cooperation instead of competition: how can sustainability scholars and leaders from governments, business, civil society and scientific institutions work together in local to regional contexts to help design, implement and monitor the necessary transformations towards sustainability?

3. The specific role of scientific institutions: which lessons can be drawn from the pandemic on the responsibility of science in general and the specific role of scientific institutions for structuring the nexus between academia and policymaking? What kind of institutional reforms are needed to meet this function?

The event will synthesise the project to date and prepare a successor project for the next 3 years. There will be joint reflection and brainstorming on the questions, alternating between group sessions and plenary discussions that allows an open structured dialogue.

Online conference
Per invitation only


The Global Sustainability Strategy Forum (https://www.iasspotsdam.de/en/research/global-sustainability-strategy-forum) was organised to produce expert evidence-informed judgements on the fundamental trends and processes at the heart of the central issues of sustainability at global and regional scales.

GSSF is a joint initiative of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany, and Arizona State University (ASU) in the USA.