Impact: There has been a plethora of initiatives to operationalise the 2030 Agenda and achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). Yet, disconnected science practices from current sustainability trends are creating skepticism about the potential of academics to resolve important sustainability issues that compromise the wellbeing of all. Preliminary investigations identified that a few reasons for this were having a limited understanding of local research contexts; lacking an overall approach to sustainability; having limited knowledge about sustainability assessment, methods and techniques; and inadequacies in the higher education sector and collaboration processes amongst academics and practitioners to achieve sustainability targets (Franco, et al). Thus, the current research agenda needs to engage in more sustainability research impact practices that tackle real and contextualized issues across various sectors and hopefully achieve all SDGs. Together with the theoretical basis for such exercises, this Special Issue contributes to sustainability science as it builds knowledge on how to resolve the apparent paradox between lack of knowledge on SDG operationalisation and localisation into the scientific research agenda.
Building upon the experience and lessons learnt by academics dealing with sustainability assessment methods and techniques, the aim of this Special Issue is to explore current sustainability research impact practices that tackle real and contextualized issues across different sectors and geographies whilst achieving the SDGs and overall 2030 Agenda. Thus, the key question we ask in this Special Issue is how do we as sustainability scholars study the operationalisation of SDGs and develop ways of understanding to achieve an impact in terms of both rhetoric and research?