The sustainability solutions agenda

Daniel Sarewitz, Richard Clapp, Cathy Crumbley, David Kriebel, Joel Tickner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Progress toward a more sustainable society is usually described in a “knowledge-first” framework, where science characterizes a problem in terms of its causes and mechanisms as a basis for subsequent action. Here we present a different approach—A Sustainability Solutions Agenda (SSA)— which seeks from the outset to identify the possible pathways to solutions. SSA focuses on uncovering paths to sustainability by improving current technological practice, and applying existing knowledge to identify and evaluate technological alternatives. SSA allows people and organizations to transition toward greater sustainability without sacrificing essential technological functions, and therefore does not threaten the interests that depend on those functions. Whereas knowledge-first approaches view scientific information as sufficient to convince people to take the right actions, even if those actions are perceived as against their immediate interests, SSA allows values to evolve toward greater attention to sustainability as a result of the positive experience of solving a problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-151
Number of pages13
JournalNew Solutions
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012


  • Solutions
  • Sustainability
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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