NTNU’s Strategic Research Area on Sustainability hosted the international Sustainability Science Conference 2017 (NTNUSSC) in October. The conference will be hosted biennially from now on, in association with the presentation of the Gunnerus Sustainability Science Award.

The conference was designed around the field of sustainability science, which advances our understanding of the dynamics of human-environmental systems and focuses on the synthesis and integration of different scientific disciplines to solve sustainable development challenges. The theme selected for the first year of the conference was Transitions to sustainable systems, which guided the organization of and research presented at the event. NTNUSSC provided a forum for the presentation of sustainability research that spans human and ecological systems and disciplines, and contributes to the change required of our current economic and social systems.  

The participation of business in this transition is essential – a fact recognized in the design of both the conference and Road CSR project. Paralleling the objectives of Road CSR, NTNUSSC included a track on Business models for sustainability. This track concentrated on research conducted in the academia – industry nexus. In other words, academic researchers showed how their research on corporate sustainability has been, or can be, translated and implemented in the operations and business models of companies and organizations. 15 abstracts were presented, along with over ten posters. Such research shows that the first step in improving the CSR and sustainability of companies requires in increase in company understanding of what they can improve, and that these improvements, which may seem costly in the short-term, are necessary for long-term sustainability.

Additionally, keynote speeches were held by industry representatives and EU policy makers, and provided participants insight into the current situation on the corporate and political levels.

The Road CSR project was represented at the conference, and participants were given flyers about our objectives.

The next NTNU Sustainability Science Conference will be held in 2019.