The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world in unimaginable ways and at a rapid pace. The crisis has revealed, very dramatically, how science can inform bold societal actions in response to risks. At the same time, the use of science for decision-making on COVID-19 and other major societal challenges reveals a very complex relationship between science and action. The relationship between science and action on sustainability is the focus of a newly released special issue of the journal Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. A team of researchers from different social sciences disciplines came together to understand what makes knowledge “actionable,” and how scientific organizations can fund and foster the production and use of knowledge to advance sustainability solutions.