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October 8, 2020

Building a Sustainable Society: Underwriters Laboratories Participates in Global Forum

Underwriters Laboratories President and CEO Terry Brady joined scientists, policymakers and business leaders at the annual meeting of the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum Oct.3-6, hosted virtually from Kyoto, Japan. Each year, participants gather to address our world’s most complex problems and examine how science and technology can serve as a catalyst for systemic positive change.

This year, the meeting focused on the role science and technology will play in the post-COVID-19 era. Participants were asked to share how the global community might shape a new way forward once the world has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. Poverty, hunger and resource scarcity have been worsened by the pandemic. Climate change threatens to exacerbate the situation even further. Given what is at stake, researchers, leaders and scholars discussed the importance of taking meaningful action to move forward in a way that is innovative, sustainable and equitable.

Brady participated in the “Sustainable Society” panel discussion on Oct. 3, moderated by Matthias Kleiner, president of the Leibniz Association. Kleiner raised a number of issues, among them—what will it take to realize a true sustainable society? He asked panelists if the pandemic would encourage societies to create tangible, universal transformation across all sectors and bring a greater commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

When asked about the future of sustainability science, Brady said, “for sustainability science to have greater impact, individual researchers and initiatives should be brought together within collaborative, holistic research programs. These programs and long-term partnerships can lead to new, socially relevant research questions and insights, and over time, such collaborations have the potential to create the transformation called for in the UN SDGs.”

As part of its mission to ensure a safer world, Underwriters Laboratories shares in the responsibility and urgency to help promote the prosperity of all people, everywhere. In 2019, UL became a signatory to the UN Global Compact and formally committed to help meet the global challenges issued by the Sustainable Development Goals and report on its progress and contributions to the principles of sustainability. By aligning to the SDGs, UL amplifies its ability to contribute to the collaborative effort to help solve the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world.

“When researchers, policymakers and industry leaders come together, organizations can accelerate scientific and technological development,” Brady added. “We must issue a call to fund research and support STEM education that recognizes the importance of interdisciplinary efforts. Merging social science, ethics, public policy and the humanities, along with fundamental and applied research, can help propel sustainability science initiatives forward.”

Other speakers on the Sustainable Society panel included Sally M. Benson, co-director of Stanford University's Precourt Institute for Energy and a professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering; Mario J. Molina, president of the Mario Molina Center for Strategic Studies on Energy and the Environment and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995; Daya Reddy, president of the International Science Council; Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; and Yuan Tseh Lee, president emeritus at the Institute of Atomic and Molecular Sciences at Academia Sinica and a recipient of the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry in 1986.