How can the government best deal with the complex, long-term nature of sustainability challenges? According to a new National Research Council report, the United States should establish a National Sustainability Policy and take additional steps to encourage federal agencies to collaborate on sustainability challenges that demand the expertise of many agencies, such as improving disaster resilience and managing ecosystems.
The report finds that current statutes and government culture encourage agencies to focus on a single area -- energy, water, or health, for example -- with little attention to how areas affect one another. This “stovepipe” or “silo” effect makes it difficult to address issues that cut across agency boundaries.
The report recommends steps the government can take to build linkages among agencies and stakeholders outside government to address these challenges. A National Sustainability Policy, developed with input from agencies, NGOs, and the private sector, could help surmount obstructions and enable initiatives that cut across agency jurisdictions.
One of four priority areas the report identifies is strengthening the resilience of communities to catastrophic events. Starting in Fall 2013, the Koshland Science Museum will hold a series of public events exploring this theme.
Report Calls for National Sustainability Policy