Headline: Systemic risks


Insights from Complexity Science: More Trust in Self-Organization Needed

Globalization, digitalization, sustainabilization – three major waves of transformation are unfolding around the world. The social upheaval caused by these transformation processes has given rise to populist movements that endanger social harmony and threaten democratic values. What rules and institutions can promote stability in the face of such systemic risks? A new study published by the IASS offers some surprising answers.

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Special Issue

New Solutions for Addressing Systemic Risks

Systemic risks like climate change, cyber security and pandemics are characterised by high complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity, and effects beyond the system in which they originate. That’s why novel research approaches and regulatory measures are indispensable for the evaluation and management of these risks. An interdisciplinary team around IASS Scientific Director Ortwin Renn recently published a paper on this subject, which appears as the first article in a special issue of the journal “Risk Analysis” edited by Renn and IASS Research Group Leader Pia-Johanna Schweizer.

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Sustainable risk assessment

IASS Director Advises British House of Lords

The British House of Lords recently invited the Scientific Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) Professor Ortwin Renn to speak about national risk assessment at a public hearing of the Select Committee on Risk Assessment and Risk Planning. One of the main points Renn made to the British Parliament was that in tackling a national crisis, governments need to show that they are working in the interests of the common good.

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Better Prepared for Future Crises: Recommendations from Risk Researchers

Although there were early warnings of an exponentially growing pandemic, most policymakers around the world were unprepared and reluctant to act when Covid-19 first spread from China around the world. Since then the crisis has led to unprecedented restrictions and triggered the worst recession since the Second World War. In an article published in the Journal of Risk Research, Aengus Collins, Marie-Valentine Florin (both EPFL International Risk Governance Center) and IASS Scientific Director Ortwin Renn analyze the key factors and offer recommendations on how we can better prepare for future crises.

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How is Covid-19 affecting the global economic order?

Scenarios for the Global Monetary System

Supply chains collapse, companies are facing bankruptcy, and mass unemployment ensues. Covid-19 has triggered a global financial crisis and is forcing states to develop rescue packages on a scale not seen before. In addition, the crisis has called into question the US dollar's hegemony and could redefine the global monetary system. A team of researchers from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) has developed four scenarios that show how political decisions will shape the post-Corona world.

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Report Submitted to EU Commission

How can science better support policymaking?

Today, more than ever, politicians rely on sound scientific advice to make decisions. The political issues that most need scientific input are those where the science itself is often complex and uncertain. A SAPEA working group under the leadership of Ortwin Renn has developed proposals for good scientific advice.

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Order of Merit Awarded to IASS Director

Eighteen people were recently awarded the Order of Merit of the federal state of Baden-Württemberg by Governor Winfried Kretschmann. Professor Ortwin Renn, Scientific Director at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) was among them. Renn was honoured for his outstanding contribution to the transfer of scientific insights into politics, public administration and management and his unstinting commitment to a just and sustainable economic and social order.

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Risk Governance Concept

Advancing Disaster Risk Reduction

Populations are growing in disaster-prone areas around the world. The interaction of natural hazards with physical infrastructure in these regions can trigger devastating chain reactions, harming societies and their technical foundations. What can be done to address these challenges? A team at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) has developed a multi-level risk governance concept for natural disasters.

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Energy Transition: Populism is the Path to the Worst Case Scenario

The transition to a net-zero-emission economy will create new rivalries, winners and losers. What scenarios are possible? As part of the Geopolitics and Energy Transformation 2030 (GET 2030) project at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), a team of international experts has looked into the developments that are conceivable in the international energy transition and their geopolitical implications. A team led by Professor Andreas Goldthau has commented on the results of this investigation in the journal “Nature”. In an interview with the IASS, Goldthau outlined the different possible scenarios.

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Making Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Drivers of Green Growth: Recommendations for Politics and Business

“Green growth” promises to foster sustainable development while promoting economic prosperity and advancing social justice. But how does this work in practice? The EU-funded research project “Green Growth and Win-Win Strategies for Sustainable Climate Action” (Green-Win) has studied a range of green growth strategies. Its research results include a new guide to green business models and policy recommendations to foster green growth and support small and medium-sized enterprises.

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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

Facing Down the Plastic Flood – Recycling, a Plastic Tax, and the Barriers to Behaviour Change

In May 2020 I was a guest on an episode of the TV show “Planet Wissen” dedicated to “Pathways out of the Plastic Flood”. It was an opportunity for me to talk about the preliminary results of our work in the ENSURE project on “Plastic: Social Perception and Behaviour Patterns”. The journalist Andrea Wojtkowiak had sent me a few questions in advance, but – as is so often the case – there wasn’t enough time to discuss everything in detail during the programme itself. So for all those interested in the issue of plastic, here are the more in-depth answers.

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Lessons from the Corona Crisis for sustainable crisis management

Not since the Second World War has German society experienced a challenge to society that compares to the current global pandemic. While it is not possible at this point to fully assess the implications of this crisis for public health, the economic and society, the measures and regulations adopted to date are unprecedented in post-war German history in terms of their scope and impact on citizens across the country.

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What the pandemic says about how we deal with systemic risks

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has fundamentally changed our lives within a short period. The world is in a state of emergency and there is no end in sight. The pandemic triggered by the coronavirus is a dynamic event shaped by many different factors, in particular human behaviour (e.g. hygiene behaviour and social interactions), making it highly variable. In many countries, the number of infections is rising exponentially. In the absence of effective therapeutic drugs or a vaccine, the number of infections can only be reduced by adopting far-reaching measures to restrict direct social contact ("physical distancing").

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Research Groups

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