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  • Flooding, already the largest hazard facing humankind, is becoming more frequent and affecting more people. Adapting to flooding must consider more than just water to encapsulate the effects of sediment movement, re-imagine flooding through a sociogeomorphic lens and expand approaches to knowing about floods.

    • Jim Best
    • Peter Ashmore
    • Stephen E. Darby
  • While traditional farming has fed billions of people, it is exerting mounting pressure on land, water and the environment. To complement current agricultural practices, we present a green chemical farming concept that provides pathways to efficient and renewable food production by leveraging chemistry and chemical engineering.

    • Ning Yan
    • Kang Zhou
    • Maxim Park Dickieson
  • We need consensus to accurately evaluate the performance and potential of emerging water production technologies, such as solar evaporation and atmospheric water harvesting. Here we recommend practices that would allow a fair basis to compare different studies, and help to align research input with actual demand.

    • Yaoxin Zhang
    • Swee Ching Tan
  • Having transformed our way of life, rechargeable batteries are poised for exponential growth over the coming decade, notably due to the wider adoption of electric vehicles. An international expert panel proposes a combination of vision, innovation and practice for feasible pathways toward sustainable batteries.

    • Christian Bauer
    • Simon Burkhardt
    • Shengming Xu
  • Most cities lack holistic monitoring and green infrastructure to mitigate pollution in urban runoff. We call for systematic characterization of runoff and more widespread treatment to protect biodiversity and human health. This challenge requires data-driven, adapted, low-cost and sustainable solutions for dense urban centres.

    • Mathieu Lapointe
    • Chelsea M. Rochman
    • Nathalie Tufenkji
  • Contamination of the environment with plastics is one of the most widespread and long-lasting human influences on our planet. There is an urgent need to comprehensively evaluate the environmental plastics cycle and advance understanding of key transport and fate mechanisms to minimize human exposure to plastics pollution.

    • Kevin V. Thomas
  • Natural capital accounting will confirm what we know — without change, we are headed for environmental disaster resulting from economic growth. We propose a natural capital bank, a new institution to help maintain natural capital adequacy and chart a course to a sustainable future via accounting.

    • Michael J. Vardon
    • Heather Keith
    • David B. Lindenmayer
  • Sustainably transitioning to electric vehicles is challenging where transport and electricity systems are poorly defined due to a lack of data, such as those dominated by paratransit (informal, privately owned ‘public’ transport). We call for a more systemic approach to data collection as a key enabler for this transition.

    • Katherine A. Collett
    • Stephanie A. Hirmer
  • Consensus on carbon accounting approaches at city-level is lacking and analytic frameworks to systematically link carbon mitigation with the Sustainable Development Goals are limited. A new accounting approach anchored upon key physical provisioning systems can help to address these knowledge gaps and facilitate urban transitions.

    • Anu Ramaswami
    • Kangkang Tong
    • Karen C. Seto
  • Staging the Olympics now requires attention to sustainability and urban legacy. Resolving their competing demands rests on recognizing the realities of the host city–IOC relationship.

    • John R. Gold
    • Margaret M. Gold
  • Improving environmental stewardship requires improvement of the options available down to the poorest resource users. Agriculture will no longer be the path to development and better options that it once was, without rethinking how and where to intervene. An iconic video game provides a lens into how this can happen.

    • Andrew Reid Bell
  • Universities and research centres around the world have made significant progress towards establishing collaborative, interdisciplinary initiatives in sustainability science. However, more needs to be done to support the career development of junior sustainability scholars whose work is often team based and outreach oriented.

    • J. Nicolas Hernandez-Aguilera
    • Weston Anderson
    • Andy Stock
  • The COVID-19 outbreak has stimulated calls for a global wildlife trade ban. Such actions may only partially curb pandemic risk while negatively affecting people who depend on wildlife. More worryingly, they may provide cover for inaction on issues that would make a true difference in preventing future pandemics.

    • Dilys Roe
    • Tien Ming Lee
  • China’s decision to ban the trade and consumption of terrestrial wild animals, while controversial, is a viable response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ban has implications that extend beyond safeguarding human health to also help combat illegal wildlife trade and protect threatened species.

    • Lian Pin Koh
    • Yuhan Li
    • Janice Ser Huay Lee
  • Coupling technological advances with sociocultural and policy changes can transform agri-food systems to address pressing climate, economic, environmental, health and social challenges. An international expert panel reports on options to induce contextualized combinations of innovations that can balance multiple goals.

    • Christopher B. Barrett
    • Tim G. Benton
    • Stephen Wood
  • Pandemic responses can engender healthier and more sustainable societies only if we attend to urban equality.

    • Michele Acuto
    • Shaun Larcom
    • Susan Parnell
  • Hand hygiene is critical for reducing transmission of communicable diseases, as we are so acutely aware during the COVID-19 pandemic. UNICEF has identified behaviour change and knowledge promotion as top strategies for increasing handwashing during this crisis, while acknowledging that millions of people lack the water necessary for handwashing.

    • David M. Hannah
    • Iseult Lynch
    • Stefan Krause
  • Biodiversity research is replete with scientific studies depicting future trajectories of decline that have failed to mobilize transformative change. Imagination and creativity can foster new ways to address longstanding problems to create better futures for people and the planet.

    • Carina Wyborn
    • Federico Davila
    • Emma Woods
  • The current definition of desertification excludes hyper-arid zones given their lack of economic activity. However, the 101 million people living there, ongoing land degradation associated with the use of groundwater for intensive agriculture and climate-change-induced aridity call for a revision of this definition.

    • Jaime Martínez-Valderrama
    • Emilio Guirado
    • Fernando T. Maestre
  • Governments are deciding on measures to help economies recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but, as in previous crises, a narrow focus on fighting the recession could have adverse effects on the environment and health. We suggest that health and sustainability should be at the heart of the economic response.

    • Carla Guerriero
    • Andy Haines
    • Marco Pagano