The 2023 Science|Business Annual Network Conference, titled Sustainable horizons: Does our future depend on science?, will take place in Brussels on Tuesday 7 February.
Against a backdrop of crisis and uncertainty, the world needs science, technology and innovation more than ever to tackle the “wicked problems” it faces. From climate and health, to clean energy and food supply, the opportunity landscape for R&D organisations is huge – even as the pressure to deliver new solutions grows exponentially. As a case in point, the EU alone will invest close to €50 billion this decade to address a range of global challenges through Horizon Europe, its flagship research programme.
Nonetheless, the technological pathways to sustainability are not without their downsides: the environmental footprint of the digital transition, mining rare earth minerals and metals to support net-zero targets and the energy transition, biofuels vs. biodiversity, and more besides. And that is before one factors in the rapidly changing geopolitics of science and questions of technology sovereignty and competition.
On February 7, Science|Business will convene leaders from its Network and the international R&D community to delve deeper into this vital domain. Among the topics to be explored: What role for science and tech in pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals? Will Horizon Europe make a tangible impact on these and other sustainability targets? Can foresight help the worlds of science, industry and policy agree on what to prioritise in the years to come? And does the pursuit of potential “game changers” distract us from making the best use of the technologies we already possess?