Systems Thinking, Anticipation and Resilience

There is a clear need for new ideas and approaches to provide a sound basis for better-informed decisions to manage intensifying economic, environmental and social challenges. As these challenges are systemic, interconnected and dynamic, systems thinking, coupled with improved anticipation and strengthened resilience, provides a coherent methodology and the necessary tools to develop the new approaches which are so urgently required to formulate and implement more coherent and effective policies. The Strategic Partnership established by the OECD and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) has defined priorities including the formulation of systems-based strategies to address global issues, disseminating systems thinking through education and training, and extending the systems approach across the OECD.

Systemic Thinking for Policy Making

Launched by the OECD Secretary General and the Director General of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), over 70 international experts from both organisations pool their expertise and experience to propose new approaches to analysing the interconnected trends and issues shaping today’s and tomorrow’s world in Systemic Thinking for Policy Making -The Potential of Systems Analysis for Addressing Global Policy Challenges in the 21st Century. The authors argue that to tackle planetary emergencies linked to the environment, the economy and socio-political systems, we have to understand their systemic properties, such as tipping points, interconnectedness and resilience. They give the reader a precise introduction to the tools and techniques needed to do so, and offer hope that we can overcome the challenges the world is facing.

Think Systemically, Act Collectively: anticipating and responding to crises
The Integration of Economic, Social and Climate Policies to face the Systemic Challenges of the 21st Century - presentation to OECD Council by Martin Lees, Chair of the OECD-IIASA Task Force (20 Jan 2020)

Confronting Planetary Emergencies

A Systemic Recovery
Conference, 28 April 2021, OECD Paris

Confronting Planetary Emergencies
NAEC Group Conference, 9 October 2020, OECD Paris

Integrative Economics
Conference, 5-6 March 2020, OECD Paris

Averting Systemic Collapse
NAEC Group Conference, 17-18 September 2019, OECD Paris

10 years after the failure of Lehman Brothers: What have we learned? 
NAEC Group Conference, 13-14 September 2018, OECD Paris


Pandemics, flooding, cyber attack, wildfire. These are just some of the things that threaten our critical infrastructure and supply chains. We’ve engineered these for maximum efficiency and minimum risk. But what about resilience? Igor Linkov is the Senior Science Technology Manager at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center and an Adjunct Professor of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. He discusses how to design for systems failure.


See all NAEC work on Resilience

Neuroscience-inspired Policy Initiative

NAEC is working with various actors on a Neuroscience-informed Policy Initiative on the concept of “Brain Capital” which considers brain skills and brain health as an indispensable part of the knowledge economy, and contributed to A Brain Capital Grand Strategy: toward economic reimagination, which was published in Molecular Psychiatry. NAEC promotes this concept as an approach for thinking about the economy and how it works in new ways and is laying some of the groundwork, looking at relevant metrics and building up a network of interested actors in the medical field, neuroscience, philanthropy and business.
Further information available at NAEC and Neuro.

Understanding the New Economy

Much has already come out of NAEC in terms of specific ideas, policies, metrics, and approaches. But real change requires that people see the bigger picture as well. Explanations for how the world works, visions for where they want to go, and shared narratives to help them work together to get there. That is why a new narrative of growth is so important to discuss at OECD and so central to its collective mission.  Such a narrative must be based on the best facts and science available, but it must also provide understanding and inspiration.

Beyond Growth: Towards a New Economic Approach

We are facing a series of converging planetary emergencies linked to the environment, the economy, and our social and political systems, but we will not meet these challenges using the tools of the last century. We need to rethink the role of the economy in improving the well-being of people and the planet. As the world’s leading intergovernmental forum on economic policy, the OECD has a central role to play in creating a new economic narrative. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría therefore invited a high-level group of experts to contribute their proposals on what needs to change in economic policy and policymaking. Beyond Growth: Towards a New Economic Approach summarises their conclusions. The Advisory Group argues that we need to go beyond growth, to stop seeing growth as an end in itself, but rather as a means to achieving societal goals including environmental sustainability, reduced inequality, greater wellbeing and improved resilience. This requires updating the philosophy, tools and methods underpinning the analysis that influences economic decision-making. Drawing on developments across the modern field of economics and political economy, the report argues for a new approach which recognises the rootedness of economic systems and behaviour in the relationship between people, social institutions and the environment.
President Michael D. Higgins speaks at NAEC conference
Endorsed by President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland in his opening speech for the NAEC Group Conference "Confronting Planetary Emergencies" (9 October 2020)
Thinking Beyond GrowthAndrew Sheng, The Statesman (28 September 2020)
Covid-19 drives leaders to make unprecedented interventions but what next?Larry Elliott, The Guardian  (13 September 2020)
Presentation of “Case Study: New Approaches to Economic Challenges in the 21st Century” by Oxford Said Business School and pfc Social Impact Advisors

The Financial System

The Financial System publishes short summaries of a diverse range of thinking and proposals from a prestigious series of experts invited by NAEC to share their expertise with those who wish to learn more about the financial system from those at its heart. They debate the theory and models of the financial system as well as the role of its different component parts, such as currency, insurance or asset management and how they interact. And they offer advice on how financial policy can contribute to making the financial system more resilient.
It was launched on 29 September 2020 with several of the contributors joining a discussion on The Financial System and Covid-19, moderated by Rana Foroohar of The Financial Times.
OECD’s NAEC publishes a tour de force in The Financial SystemInstitute and Faculty of Actuaries (30 September 2020)
Covid recovery will stem from digital business, Rana Foroohar, The Financial Times (4 October 2020)

The Knowledge Economy

NAEC interview with Professor Roberto Mangabeira Unger on publication of "The Knowledge Economy: A Critique of the Dominant View"  
Imagination Unleashed – Democratising the Knowledge Economy (pdf) is the product of collaboration between the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) and Harvard Professor Roberto Mangabeira Unger and supported by the OECD’s NAEC Initiative.
Socially Inclusive Economic Growth and the Futures of the Knowledge Economy

Next Generation Analytical Approaches to Policy

We live in a connected world of coupled dynamic systems. Epidemic dynamics, economic contagions, network transmission of poor information, human emotions and behaviours are producing concurrent and mutually-amplifying shocks to global systems. The standard tools of mainstream equilibrium economics are inadequate to explain, to forecast, or to control these complex systems. New modelling and analysis tools are essential to understand these coupled nonlinear systems and to inform policy. To meet this need, NAEC has forged a coalition of Institutions committed to developing new science and injecting it into the networks and structures of policymaking.

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