Take the long view.
• EPA will need to continue to evaluate and apply the new tools for data acquisition, modeling, and knowledge development described in Chapter 3.
• EPA will need to continue to develop and apply new systems-level tools and expertise for systematic analysis of the health, environmental, social, and economic implications of individual decisions.
• EPA will need to continue to develop tools and methods for synthesizing science and characterizing uncertainties, and will need to integrate methods for tracking and assessing the outcomes of actions (that is, for being accountable) into its decision process from the outset.
EPA can maintain its global position in environmental protection by staying at the leading edge of science and engineering research. Staying at the edge of science knowledge requires staying at the edge of science practice. In addition to understanding the latest advances in the science and practice of environmental protection, EPA will need to continue to engage actively in the identification of emerging scientific and technologic developments, respond to advances in science and technology, and use its knowledge, capacity, and experience to direct those advances. That is consistent with the two principal goals for science in the agency: to safeguard human health and the environment and to foster the development and use of innovative technologies (EPA 2012).
For EPA to stay at the leading edge, the committee presents a set of overarching principles for research and policy that begins to address the challenges of wicked problems. To be able to predict and adequately address existing challenges and prevent on-the-horizon challenges, EPA’s science will need to
• Anticipate. Be deliberate and systematic in anticipating scientific, technology, and regulatory challenges.
• Innovate. Support innovation in scientific approaches to characterize and prevent problems and to support solutions through more sustainable technologies and practices.
• Take the long view. Track progress in ecosystem quality and human health over the medium term and the long term and identify needs for midcourse corrections.
• Be collaborative. Support interdisciplinary collaboration in and outside the agency, across the United States, and globally.
Those four principles support the flow of science information (from data to knowledge) in EPA to inform environmental decision-making and strategies for inducing desirable environmental behaviors.