PURPOSE AND GOALS
The unifying focus of the conference was on setting
a well conceived agenda for science for environmental
decisionmaking in the 21st Century that is built on a new
interdisciplinary “science of sustainability.”* The organizing
principle used by the Council in developing the conference
mission was that stakeholder informed science is the most
powerful means to building consensus for solving the serious
environmental problems facing the United States and the
The highlight of the conference—which included formal
presentations by some of the nation’s most eminent specialists
on environmental research and policymaking (Appendix 1)—
was the inauguration of the John H. Chafee Memorial Lecture
on Science and the Environment. During his 23 years of
service in the United States Senate, the late Senator John H.
Chafee demonstrated how much a passionate commitment
to environmental protection and a civil bipartisan approach
to science-based policymaking could contribute to achieving
a sustainable future.
Nobel Laureates F. Sherwood Rowland and Mario J. Molina
delivered the first lecture jointly. They were the leading scientists
in what has often been referred to as “the world’s biggest
success story to date of using science to resolve an environmental
problem.” In the lecture, the two scientists described
their discovery that chlorofluorocarbons cause stratospheric
ozone depletion and their subsequent efforts to use this
scientific understanding to encourage policies that would
reverse the problem. (The lecture will be published and
made available through the Council.)
The logic of the organizers in devoting a major portion
of the conference program to breakout sessions on 14 specific
topics was that by doing so participants could provide the
most immediate and effective assistance to decisionmakers
in the new Administration and the Congress.They accomplished
this in the working groups by identifying: (1) critical
knowledge gaps where more and better science is needed,
and (2) critical communication gaps that seriously impede
decisionmaking efforts by policymakers.
Each breakout session was charged with generating a brief
set of recommendations for improving the scientific basis
for decisionmaking within their given topic area. Participants
were told that the recommendations could be addressed to
the government as a whole and/or to its specific agencies
and that they were not expected to be consensus views.
The Council also suggested that the recommendations
focus specifically on science needs and not on what the
environmental policy of the United States should be. It was
further requested that the recommendations identify either:
(1) scientific information needed for environmental decision making,
or (2) methods to connect science with environmental
The recommendations submitted by each breakout session
represent the general (but not necessarily consensus) views
of participants attending that session. A list of each session’s
chairperson, facilitator, and invited speakers is included as
Appendix 2. Numbers used are for organizational purposes,
A list of conference participants appears in Appendix 4.
The listing of a name does not imply agreement with all
of the recommendations contained in the report. Affiliations
are listed for identification purposes only.
The National Council for Science and the Environment expresses
its most sincere gratitude to all of the participants in the conference
and to all of those who will consider these recommendations
and work toward their adoption and effective implementation.
In particular, the Council wants to thank those 100 or so
individuals who prepared background material and papers,
who presented formal remarks to the conference, and who
chaired, facilitated, and prepared the recommendations for each
of the breakout sessions. Their names appear in Appendix 2.
*See Our Common Journey: A Transition Toward Sustainability,Board on
Sustainable Development, National Research Council, 1999.
See also Appendix 5