7 March 2019. MAK’IT, the new “Montpellier Advanced Knowledge Institute on Transitions”, which promotes inter-disciplinary research and knowledge sharing towards the SDGs.
In advising the MAK’IT team on how to make the institute a success, David Nabarro and Louise Fresco share cunning insights on the kind of science we need to support the achievement of the SDGs, insights that can inspire many of us in this CoP.
Louise Fresco challenges scientists, saying that “many times, science has been stuck at the diagnosis of the problems – which is very good – but we now must move collectively to solution-driven science”, going beyond “partial solutions”, and stepping outside “our ivory towers” by engaging people in society. She reflects on the ambition behind the SDGs and invites us to think beyond the specific targets, calling for a “turning around of our way of thinking” for example thinking of “a new economic system where value is given to things that don’t have value today, where poverty is a cost..”.
David Nabarro invites us to “see the SDGs as a Compass not as a blueprint, a compass to help guide collective action and make a magnetic field.” He explains his discomfort with set targets, which tend to drive activities in a linear way to address challenges that cannot be subject to linear solutions, and invites us to think about science-based pathways.
He invents the verb “to science” to describe the act of engagement in ultimate scientific practice and calls for all of us to learn to be comfortable with complexity, reminding us that being scientific is about putting ideas to the test, and that doubt is part of the exercise. And he calls for “leaders who can hold multiple perspectives simultaneously, can start where people are and link with their environment,who can see the whole of the system as well as the individual parts.”