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Innovations for sustainability in a post-pandemic future

07/07/2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the world into turmoil and disrupted the status quo, but it is also providing opportunities for innovation in the way we live and work. According to the latest report released by The World in 2050 (TWI2050) initiative, the crisis can lead to creating sustainable societies with higher levels of wellbeing for all. Beyond political will, small-scale, granular innovations that are affordable and can be widely applied are key here.
Innovations for sustainability in a post-pandemic future

Maintaining solar panels in Mali: Scalable innovations are key. Photo: UN/C. Hughes

“The current rate and direction of innovation is insufficient, in part due to a relatively narrow focus on technology innovation without also addressing societal, institutional, cultural, and governance innovation. It is time to rebalance, so that all dimensions of innovation are promoted simultaneously, while also addressing inequities. In light of the current crisis the world finds itself in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the launch of this report during the UN High-level Political Forum, is timely,” comments Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

Among the authors of the third report released by the TWI2050 initiative's third report are also Hermann Lotze-Campen from PIK, Jeffrey Sachs and Dirk Messner. Under the headline "Innovations for Sustainability: Pathways to an efficient and sufficient post-pandemic future", it assesses the positive potential benefits innovation brings to sustainable development for all, while also highlighting the potential negative impacts and challenges going forward. The document outlines strategies to harness innovation for sustainability by focusing on efficiency and sufficiency in providing services to people, with a particular focus on human wellbeing. It highlights the need for better governance for integrated SDG implementation, inclusive political institutions, and the importance of science, technology, and innovation in providing possible solutions for achieving a sustainable future for people and the planet.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated system-wide weaknesses in implementing an early and effective global response. However, if the right lessons are learned, it provides significant opportunities to accelerate the societal consensus and political reforms needed to achieve the transformation toward sustainability.

Full report: TWI2050 - The World in 2050 (2020). Innovations for Sustainability: Pathways to an efficient and sufficient post-pandemic future. Report prepared by The World in 2050 initiative. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria [pure.iiasa.ac.at/16533]

Previous report by TWI2050: TWI2050 - The World in 2050 (2018). Transformations to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Report prepared by The World in 2050 initiative. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Laxenburg, Austria [pure.iiasa.ac.at/15347]

[Text adapted from the press release by iiasa.ac.at]

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