As illustrated by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, the challenges facing us are multifaceted and broad. The solutions will not lie in any one sector—all of society must engage. But science undoubtedly has a part to play in tackling pieces of the overarching puzzle of how to live in an equitable and healthy way that accords with the constraints of our planet and leaves no one behind.
In this collection of Reviews and Perspectives drawn together to celebrate 150 years of Nature, we take a look at a snapshot of areas in which science might help ease the transition to a healthy, sustainable and inclusive future.
In no way exhaustive, topics covered include the reuse and recycling of batteries from electric vehicles, the design and manufacture of more sustainable structural alloys, the capture and utilization of carbon in products, the resilience of harvestable ecosystems, the engineering of climate-resilient crops, progress and challenges in global vaccination, and epidemic prevention and response. Emphasised throughout is the need for a whole-of-society response if effective solutions are to emerge.
Science will serve us best if it accords with the principles of inclusivity, transparency and openness. In this vein, we end this Insight with a piece that shows how attending to one quite glaring blind spot in the scientific method—the overlooking of sex and gender—can open up new lines of enquiry and render research findings applicable to all.
There can be no division between science and society—even thepurest and most abstracted lines of enquiry emanate from a social fabric and time, with its characteristic attitudes, limitations, blind spots and needs. Registering those restrictions and needs, and working to address them in a constructive and collaborative way, will help to keep the vision of a more humane and environmentally sound future, as laid out by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, alive.
Nature 575, 63 (2019)