Scientists must accept to engage in partnerships with all parts of society for their work to be used.
As we have seen with the key messages of the Partners for transformation part of the report The Future is Now, an important point made by the authors to achieve the SDGs, is to change the ways science, society and policy makers collaborate.
Major transformations in areas like energy systems, health, food and urbanization make it necessary to radically rethink partnerships between science, government, the private sector, civil society and more. The Sustainable Development Goals span numerous sectors and distant places, yet each setting has its own unique requirements and potential trade-offs between Goals. Scientists everywhere can join forces with public servants, businesspeople and other citizens to manage such trade-offs fairly.
Of course, there are obstacles to this establishment of new patnerships, especially on the side of university scientists, who want to keep their independance from other powers in society.
Scientists and engineers, concerned about the impact on their careers, may be wary of partnerships because of tensions and mistrust. Some may avoid working with powerful State actors or corporations that they associate with prior ecological and social harms, poor accountability or a lack of commitment to equity. Other scientists or engineers may avoid engaging with the rich body of lay, local and traditional knowledge for fear of losing credibility or because of misconceptions about its value in comparison with academic knowledge.
However, write the authors, the expected results are worth the risks. They invite to build on initiatives such as One Health, that intend to have a holistic approach of health, and associate all stakeholders.
The knowledge and solutions needed to reconcile conflicting demands will probably emerge only from new, even unlikely, alliances. An example is the One Health approach, to improve health and well-being through prevention of risks and mitigation of diseases that originate at the interface between humans, animals and their natural environments. That brings together communities such as herders, health officials, human and veterinary doctors, ecologists, anthropologists and others. Other new vehicles for cooperation provide spaces for diverse stakeholders to work together on creative, cross-sector innovation and decision-making. Those highly replicable trials include Sustainable Development Goals labs, transformation labs or governance labs.