Complexity and risk

Complexity and risk

Complex Systems Science, CSIRO.

New computer modelling approaches are revealing the common features of systems as diverse as the weather, economies and ecosystems and improving our understanding of the unexpected emergent behaviour that these complex systems exhibit. The CSIRO Centre for Complex Systems Science supports a network of scientists who research complex systems, by providing opportunities for collaboration, sharing of ideas and capacity building.

Complexity in social-ecological systems, Complex Systems Science, CSIRO

CSIRO social-ecological complex systems scientists are exploring topics including:

  • the impact of social, economic and environmental factors on resilience and sustainability of farming systems at both farm and regional scales and under alternative land management practices
  • the role of friendship, family and affiliation networks in the adoption of innovative ideas, technologies and sustainable management practices
  • the relationship between trust networks among farmers, natural resource heterogeneity, social capital and the environmental condition of the land
  • incorporating human decision making behaviour into climate change models
  • trust networks between fishermen, how these impact upon fishing stocks and how they can be used by marine researchers in the design of marine protected areas
  • optimising renewable energy production markets for both profitability and sustainability
  • modelling the national electricity market with realistic behaviour of the players in the market.

Santa Fe Institute.

The Santa Fe Institute is devoted to creating a new kind of scientific research community, one emphasizing multi-disciplinary collaboration in pursuit of understanding the common themes that arise in natural, artificial, and social systems.

Resilience Alliance.

The Resilience Alliance is a research organization comprised of scientists and practitioners from many disciplines who collaborate to explore the dynamics of social-ecological systems.  The body of knowledge developed by the RA, encompasses key concepts of resilience, adaptability and transformability and provides a foundation for sustainable development policy and practice.
Our approach involves three main strategies:

  • Contributing toward theoretical advances in the dynamics of complex adaptive systems
  • Supporting rigorous testing of theory through a variety of means, including: participatory approaches to regional case-studies, adaptive management applications, model development, and the use of scenarios and other envisioning tools
  • Developing guidelines and principles that will enable others to assess the resilience of coupled human-natural systems and develop policy and management tools that support sustainable development.


Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
17 May 2008