International Society for Sustainability Science (ISSS) and ICSS
A platform for international knowledge-sharing to promote integration and cooperation among diverse academic fields for sustainable society
The creation of this new society is the third in a series of steps taken by the founding universities to build momentum for and long-term academic commitment to the development of sustainability science. It follows the development of an annual international conference on sustainability science (ICSS), now in its seventh year.
The seed for the creation of an international society for sustainability science was planted at the G8 University Summit in Sapporo Japan in 2008. Representatives to that summit endorsed to establish a comprehensive network that would facilitate cooperation among universities and research institutions to address complex sustainability issues. Following that endorsement, the annual International Conference on Sustainability Science (ICSS) was launched in 2009 at The University of Tokyo. Subsequent conferences have been held at Sapienza University of Rome (2010) and Arizona State University (2012). Conference hosts and sponsors as well as participants agree that the value of the annual conference lies in its fundamental aim to maintain momentum, foster collaborations, and share insights from experiences in promoting sustainability science in their own institutions.
The annual conferences were held accordingly, in 2009 (Tokyo, Japan), 2010 (Rome, Italy), 2012 (Arizona, US), 2013 (Marseille, France), 2015 (Tokyo, Japan) and 2016 (Stellenbosch, South Africa).
The need for all of these steps in the development of sustainability science stems from the new base of scientific knowledge leading to solutions that is needed to address the pressing and complex problems that confront our planet. These problems represent an utterly novel challenge to scientists and decision-makers worldwide. No institution or individual is capable of mastering the broad spectrum of knowledge that is needed to provide direction to building a sustainable world. Complex problems such as global climate, energy, resilience of society including ecosystem services, and poverty are the subject of a great deal of research. But they have been studied separately, not holistically. Building a sustainable society requires the simultaneous attainment of three over-arching goals: a low-carbon society, one that uses many fewer resources, and that functions in harmony with nature.
In order to advance this vision of sustainability it is now clear that the separate streams of research efforts must be synthesized into a coherent whole with sufficient consideration of other complex interactions among them. Moreover, while research is necessary, it is not sufficient for attainment of a sustainability vision. Potential solutions will materialize only if scientists, teachers, and decision-makers at every level and in every societal sector understand the meaning of a vision of a sustainable future and share values that underpin such a vision. Such a community can only be developed through education. Recognizing this, each of the founding universities of ISSS has launched full-fledged degree programs in sustainability science.
The ISSS is a platform on which to expand that community and upon which dedicated scholars from all disciplines can come together, share knowledge and together create, enhance, and promote a collective vision of sustainable society and to develop and maintain the means to realize it.