Approach

A NEW AGE OF RISK AND TRANSFORMATION

We consider risk is rising due to the relationship between the following three dynamics:

1. Increasing Vulnerability of the Globalised Economy

shutterstock 88995475Our basic welfare has become dependent upon an evermore globalised, complex, interdependent and high-speed set of relationships between people, goods and services, critical infrastructure, information, payment systems and so on. It has been remarkably resilient. It can also be argued that it has made us increasingly vulnerable to high-speed cascading systemic failure if the ʻrightʼ parts are compromised, or if there are significant constraints to economic growth to which it is adaptive.

2. Internal Constraints within the Globalised Economy

Most pertinent is the co-evolution of an intrinsically unstable financial and monetary system as a critical part of the economy—ensuring the flow of goods and services that our complex societies depend upon.

3. Eco-system Constraints on the Globalised Economy

The evolution and stability of the globalised economy depends absolutely on sufficient, affordable and adaptive flows of energy and resources for real time function. It also depends upon the ability of society to be resilient to waste and its consequences—climate change, for example. Constraints in oil and food are already constraining economic activity and through that the stability of financial systems.

RE-APPRAISING RISK

The first part of our challenge is to acknowledge such risk as it stands outside the conventional wisdom and worldviews of our age. As the ongoing financial ‘crisis’ demonstrates, even something as familiar in economic history as a credit bubble can catch even well meaning analysts and institutions off-guard.

We focus on risks and processes that are not of the broad consensus. Those risks are large-scale and systemic with a major impact on the most complex societies. The risks may:

  • encompass fast cascading shocks and slower long-term economic contraction.
  • involve interdependent food security crisis, trade collapse; critical infrastructure failure, 
socio-political instability, lost adaptive capacity etc.
  • preclude any reversion to pre-existing conditions.

Our primary concern is the short and longer term welfare of citizen and society under such conditions.

The second part of our challenge is to create the space and resources to understand, communicate, plan and deploy risk management strategies that are appropriate to the institutions concerned and the scale of risk. It may also require new types of cooperation and networks. We are also conscious that some types of risk management may be inherently de-stabilizing if not managed carefully.

We support clients in both these challenges.

NEW TOOLS FOR CHANGING TIMES

shutterstock 66710941Dominant economic models and analytical tools evolved out of long-range macro-stability in the globalised economy. They embody major conceptual errors such as the relationship between environment and the economy; economic equilibrium; the role of human behavior; and they are blind to the reality of growing complexity. They are likely to be highly inappropriate for the study large-scale instability in the globalised economy.

We have developed innovative ways of understanding that are holistic, dynamic and trans- disciplinary—and understandable to a wide policy audience that can provide meaningful and actionable insight into what are pressing issues of the moment.

PRACTICAL, OPTIMISTIC AND REALISTIC SUPPORT FOR AN AGE OF RISK AND TRANSFORMATION

We provide cutting edge thinking that is clearly expressed with the aim of assisting our clients to engage practically with growing systemic risks and how those might be mitigated and adapted to.

We believe we may be heading for great challenges, but we’re optimistic in that there is much we can do to support human welfare, security and well-being.

We are realistic about the scope for risk management and the limitations of pre-emptive change.

 

 

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HowToBeTrapped

Interview initially recorded in Brno, Czech Republic on 29 January 2014 during David’s lecture tour in Slovakia
and the Czech Republic. It was then re-edited over the following month. It comprises two parts: How to be Trapped and Anger & Complicity in a time of Limits.

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