Understanding systemic risks for developing guidelines to help organisations deal with them
The one-day workshop focused on improving the understanding of systemic risks and their implications. Systemic risks arise in complex systems without equilibrium, and it is important to get an understanding of the system, its dynamics and boundaries when trying to address the corresponding risks.
Complexity science and network science can help, but must be translated for application in policy, which includes addressing current issues in the science-policy-interface and the organisational set-up (such as gaps, silos, groupthink, lack of accountability and incentives). Local risks can become systemic through failure cascades, ultimately leading to multiple problems beyond the domain in which the risk originally appeared. Collaboration, learning together and experimentation will be key for improving society’s capacity to deal with such risks.
Furthermore, education and risk communication need to be improved to help people understand that complex risks are fundamentally different from conventional risks and require new tools and practices. Increasing the overall resilience of an organisation could be a way to prepare for and better deal with the shocks and stresses arising from systemic risks.
Building on the outcome of the workshop, the IRGC is developing guidelines to help organisations better deal with systemic risks, to avoid the shift of a system to an undesirable regime or to trigger and facilitate the transition of a system to a preferable regime. Publication is planned mid-2018.