Advancing Science at EPA
A message from Paul T. Anastas, Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator, EPA Office of Research and Development
Building a sustainable world—one that meets the needs of today’s generation while preserving the ability of future generations to meet theirs—is the single most important challenge of our time.
Albert Einstein once said that “problems can’t be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” Indeed , in order to address and overcome the challenges we face, we must obtain greater awareness, more knowledge, and new information. For our pursuit of a sustainable world, this means constantly questioning our approaches and always seeking out innovative solutions for improvement.
While continuing to advance the kinds of cutting edge research efforts that are the hallmark of EPA, we also are taking ambitious steps to ensure that we are as effective as we can be for the American people. These steps, known collectively as the “Path Forward,” ensure that all of EPA’s scientific work is conducted in a way that advances the goal of sustainability. In its common definition, sustainability means meeting the needs of the current generation while preserving the ability of future generations to meet their needs. At EPA, it means doing all that we can to not only protect Americans today, but also to ensure a healthy environment for our children, their children, and beyond. Achieving this ambitious goal will require the best minds to work together across disciplines in an atmosphere of innovation and creativity. It will also require broad thinking and a holistic, “systems” perspective to ensure that our science and research today can advance EPA’s mission into the future.
We are doing just that. By bringing together experts from nearly every environmental discipline, we are building upon our demonstrated excellence in measuring, monitoring, and assessing environmental problems to inform and empower sustainable solutions. We are breaking down traditional scientific silos by forging truly transdiciplinary research areas. We are establishing programs to encourage transformative innovations that simultaneously reduce environmental risk and grow the economy. We are developing new ways to communicate and maximize our impact, and we are engaging with experts, stakeholders, and communities like never before. We have embraced the goal of sustainability and, as a result, are more effectively conducting research for human health and environmental protection across the United States.
We have spent the past year and a half working to align all of our work with the concept of sustainability. These efforts have spanned across the entire spectrum of our work, from the structure of our research programs, to the nature of our interactions with programs and regions, to new internal awards, projects, trainings, and communication strategies. On October 1, we will produce a research strategic plan that will be the culmination of these efforts. Our scientists and engineers have worked with partners inside and outside the agency to make this plan responsive to pressing environmental challenges. Accomplishing the science and technology tasks included in this plan will play an important role in safeguarding human health and the environment.
This is an exciting time for EPA. Our focus on Sustainability will ensure that we not only continue our important work protecting the American people and their environment, but that we do it in a way that preserves the health of our economy and future generations.
Paul T. Anastas, Ph.D
U.S. EPA, Office of Research and Development