This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Sustainability is an important issue in government, with city planners, state agencies, and the federal government all talking about ways they can adapt to climate change, population growth, and the increasing pressures on natural resources that are coming as the century unfolds. So, in order to further the conversation about sustainability in the federal government, the National Academy of Sciences held a two and a half day symposium on science, innovation, and partnerships for sustainability solutions on May 16-18, in Washington DC.
Nearly 200 participants from the federal government, as well as their academic and industry partners, gathered at this symposium to talk about what sustainability meant to them and to explore the programs and partnerships being used to tackle sustainability issues. Dr. John Holdren, the President’s chief science advisor, kicked off the symposium with an overview of the sustainability initiatives of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, such as the National Earth Observations Plan, the National Climate Assessment, and the recommendation to have a Quadrennial Ecosystems Services Trends Assessment.
During a session entitled “Government Perspectives on Linking Knowledge and Action,” USDA Deputy Undersecretary of Research, Education, and Economics Dr. Ann Bartuska talked about the Department’s focus on sustainability. Dr. Bartuska noted some of the ways that USDA generates knowledge to be used in sustainability decision making, including the information on forest sustainability from the Forest Inventory and Analysis program of the Forest Service and the Sustainable Agriculture Research an Education (SARE) program of National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) which funds research that works to develop and share production and marketing information that advances sustainability. She also highlighted USDA efforts to build a network of Long Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) sites by linking Agricultural Research Service (ARS) experimental watersheds with Forest Service locations, and discussed the digital commons for life cycle assessment that the National Agricultural Library is developing in partnership with other federal agencies.
Many organizations joined the talks and sessions on the importance of maintaining a sustainable environment. As Dr. Bartuska emphasized, USDA is immersed in sustainability efforts and are sustainability leaders in the US government.