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Research Partnerships for SD: A Keystone of the Johannesburg Plan

Stephen Bass

Opinion paper, 2 pages

Implementation’ is rightly the strong emphasis of the WSSD Plan of Implementation. In today’s dynamic and uncertain world, however, implementing sustainable development commitments will be very difficult without integral research. The certainties of the past now rarely apply. The uncertain effects of climatic and environmental change, market liberalisation, and increased migration and social mobility, will all radically affect the prospects for sustainable development (SD). This gives rise to many technical research challenges – such as how to get more value out of fewer resources and eliminate harmful side effects. But the fundamental knowledge gaps for ‘implementation’ tend to be institutional: How to create governance structures and incentives to encourage technological innovation in the first place? How to encourage investment in millions of new jobs each year? How to establish and protect rights to sustainable livelihoods? and How to develop empirical baselines for assessing SD? Too few people are attempting to answer such basic questions, or if they are, they rarely involve policymakers, investors, producers and consumers in their efforts. SD research cannot be a detached and long-term endeavour. Research institutions need to partner with other stakeholders so that everyone can learn, adapt and innovate

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