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Jacobs J Environ Sci. 2017 Oct 16;3(1):1-11.

EPA Leadership on Science, Innovation, and Decision Support Tools for Addressing Current and Future Challenges.

Author information

1
Alan Hecht, Senior Sustainability Advisor, Sustainable and Healthy Communities National Research Program Office of Research and Development (ORD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USA.
2
Aaron Ferster, Communications Lead, Sustainable and Healthy Communities National Research Program, EPA, ORD, USA.
3
Kevin Summers, Senior Research Ecologist, Gulf Ecology Division, National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory, ORD, EPA, USA.

Abstract

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established nearly 50 years ago, the nation faced serious threats to its air, land, and water, which in turn impacted human health. These threats were effectively addressed by the creation of EPA (in 1970) and many subsequent landmark environmental legislations which in turn significantly reduced threats to the Nation's environment and public health. A key element of historic legislation is research aimed at dealing with current and future problems. Today we face national and global challenges that go beyond classic media-specific (air, land, water) environmental legislation and require an integrated paradigm of action and engagement based on (1) innovation based on science and technology, (2) stakeholder engagement and collaboration, and (3) public education and support. This three-pronged approach recognizes that current environmental problems, include social as well as physical and environmental factors, are best addressed through collaborative problem solving, the application of innovation in science and technology, and multiple stakeholder engagement. To achieve that goal, EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) is working directly with states and local communities to develop and apply a suite of accessible decision support tools (DST) that aim to improve environmental conditions, protect human health, enhance economic opportunity, and advance a resilient and sustainability society. This paper showcases joint EPA and state actions to develop tools and approaches that not only meet current environmental and public health challenges, but do so in a way that advances sustainable, healthy, and resilient communities well into the future. EPA's future plans should build on current work but aim to effectively respond to growing external pressures. Growing pressures from megatrends are a major challenge for the new Administration and for cities and states across the country. The recent hurricanes hitting Texas and the Gulf Coast, part of the increase in extreme weather events, make it clear that building resilient infrastructure is a crucial step to sustainability.

KEYWORDS:

Decision Support Tools; Resilience; Smart cities; Sustainability

PMID:
29400355
PMCID:
PMC5792076

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