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can be. On a more optimistic note, people have begun learning how to secure more social "goods" while creating fewer environmental "bads" in activities ranging from agriculture to manufacturing to recreation. A remarkable number of efforts have grown up around the world over the last decade that have succeeded in putting sustainability issues on the global political agendaand in beginning the actual search for specific pathways toward sustainability in many local contexts. If, at the close of the 20th century, the end of our common voyage toward sustainability has not yet been charted, much less brought into sight, the journey has at least begun.
In recent years, the science and technology community has not been a particularly prominent participant on this journey. This has not always been the case. Early thinking on sustainability issuesfor example, the World Conservation Strategy2was firmly grounded in a scientific understanding of the workings and limits of resources and environmental systems. But, with the possible exception of the ozone protocols, the central thrusts of many recent sustainability initiatives have been shaped more by political than scientific ideas. Major recent innovations have come in the realm of policies and institutions, rather than knowledge and know-how. Relatively little progress has been made in developing a scientific understanding of the obstacles facing any transition to sustainability, the technological opportunities for pursuing this goal, or the use of modern sensing and information systems for providing navigational aids along the way.
The principal national and international reports have thus tended to address science and technology as necessary, potentially expensive, but otherwise unproblematic inputs to the process of sustainable development. As inputs, science and technology have been addressed either as highly specific requirements (e.g., methods for the safe disposal of nuclear wastes) or as the most general needs (e.g., enhanced scientific understanding, better technology transfer, more useful policy assessments, improved environmental prediction, more complete monitoring and reporting, or strengthened capacity). Moreover, overall investments in research and development have been declining in recent years for a variety of reasons. Thus, we approach the 21st century with less than might be hoped for in the way of a useful strategic appraisal of how the knowledge and know-how most crucial to successfully navigating the transition toward sustainability is to be identified or of how the capacity to create the needed science and technology is to be developed and sustained.
This report and the processes involved in its preparation and dissemination seek to help reengage the science and technology community as a committed partner in the ongoing global effort to achieve sustainable development. This report is the result of a nearly four-year study of the