We definitely need interdisciplinary science to take the challenges that humanity faces today, that are highlighted by SGDs.
We are still reading the introduction of the Chapter 3 of the report The Future is now (and for another post to come next week), where the authors are exploring the relationships between science and societies.
Here, they state that anyway, sciences, and perhaps even the most basic ones, are not independant from the societies in which they are developed.
Clearly, scientific research is not a tidy succession of neutral discoveries and sterile facts. Rather, science is an ever-evolving driver of widespread change embedded in society. Ideally those changes are for the better (e.g., vaccines for eradicating diseases), but sometimes they are for the worse (e.g., nuclear weapons development).
Then, they come back on what is one of the main points of this introduction : science is needed to take the challenges humanity is currently facing.
Furthermore, social and natural dynamics are tightly interwoven in complex human-environment systems and cannot be fully understood or managed separately. Hence, by bringing about facts, practical knowledge, and technological solutions, science has also a key role to play in the Anthropocene, a period in Earth’s history characterized by profound human impacts on the planet as a whole.
And again, they insist on interdisciplinarity to take these challenges and to help to negotiate trade-offs that are necessary to achieve all the SDGs together.
In recent decades, scientists have begun to address the web of challenges facing humanity, with interdisciplinary research focused on coupled human environment or socioecological systems. Those integrated perspectives have been vitally important. For example, an investigation of the links between deforestation and feeding growing populations shows that people’s dietary choices, such as consumption of red meat, has a major bearing on future levels of deforestation. That kind of scientific understanding of complex social-ecological dynamics can reveal whether agreed societal goals, for example, Goal 2 (zero hunger) and Goal 15 (life on land) or Goal 3 (health), will be achieved or missed, what trade-offs are necessary, who will be impacted and how and who holds the key to transformative pathways. As one prominent expert in the Anthropocene put it: “The new normal is about winners and losers, and navigating trade-offs and surprises”.