Headline: Systemic Risks

The growing complexity of our world makes it increasingly difficult to forecast risks with any reliability. Systemic risks differ from conventional risks in a number of respects: they are both highly complex and intertwined with other risks, and their impacts are spread across diverse areas of public and economic life. Most notably, their impacts transcend both systemic boundaries (between scientific, political, and societal systems, for example) and national boundaries. Our research seeks to determine how systemic risks emerge and to identify early warning signs for the existence of both systemic risks and their trigger points.

Embracing innovative approaches to the study of systemic risks, the IASS research team analyses the complex interdependencies between science and society through the lenses of inter- and transdisciplinary research perspectives. These interdependencies will be examined across a variety of fields, including business, technology, the environment, and society. Within this context, researchers will seek to identify and characterise common patterns and structures across different systemic risks with a view to developing an early warning system for systemic risks over the longer term. Further research will seek to identify policy instruments and governance methods that ease the management of systemic risks.

Projects

Investigating the Systemic Impacts of the Global Energy Transition (ISIGET)

The international energy transition is already delivering numerous benefits, but it is also creating new inequalities. The risks posed by this transformation will impact especially on developing countries, which lack access to technologies and capital. What, then, can be done to ensure that these countries can also make the transition to a low-carbon economy? This is the focus of a new project that will develop recommendations for equitable forms of governance to reconcile conflicting policy goals.

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REconciling sCience, Innovation and Precaution through the Engagement of Stakeholders (RECIPES)

The precautionary principle is supposed to prevent environmental and health risks from arising in the first place. It encourages early and forward-looking action to minimise risks, for example in the use of nanotechnologies or pesticides. Critics of the precautionary principle argue, however, that it promotes excessive caution and hinders technological innovation. The project "REconciling sCience, Innovation and Precaution through the Engagement of Stakeholders" (RECIPES) aims to analyse how the precautionary principle is applied in the European Union and improve its future application with recourse to participatory methods.

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Global Sustainability Strategy Forum

The need for a global transformation towards sustainability is broadly acknowledged in business, politics, and civil society. And yet little progress has been made towards making this goal a reality. What can be done to close the gap between the current reality and the goal of a sustainable future?

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Climate Engineering in Science, Society and Politics

Even with ambitious climate action, the impacts of climate change are set to increase massively. In this context, interest in climate engineering measures is growing. However, alongside considerations of their technical feasibility, these interventions in the climate system raise fundamental political, cultural and ethical questions.

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Systemic Risks

This project identifies the structural features common to systemic risks like climate change, financial crises and digitalisation. The overall goal is to develop robust, enhanced governance instruments to support the management of such risks and to protect critical infrastructure and utilities.

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News

How Cities Should Approach Complex Risk Situations

Cities are more vulnerable than rural areas to a host of risks. Natural hazards like earthquakes or social risks like vandalism and crime have a far greater impact there. Moreover, the infrastructure of our cities is increasingly networked, and while smart cities may offer more in terms of security and convenience, data protection often falls by the wayside. Since risks are frequently interconnected, we need to take an integrated approach to managing them. A concept for risk governance elaborated by IASS researchers in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Science reflects just such an approach.

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Anxious Times: New Book by IASS Director Ortwin Renn

How powerful is fear and what effect does it have on our society? These questions are at the heart of a recently published book by the environmental and technical sociologist Ortwin Renn. In “Zeit der Verunsicherung” (Anxious Times), the Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) probes the causes and effects, as well as the perception and handling of fears in our society.

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Blog Posts