Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2017

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Symposium: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Systemic Risks

Room: Salon H   3:30 pm–5:10 pm

Chair(s): Pia-Johanna Schweizer

Sponsored by Foundational Issues in Risk Analysis Specialty Group

The growing complexity of our world is making it increasingly difficult to anticipate and tackle emerging risks. What effects will interventions to cool the Earth’s atmosphere (often referred to as “climate engineering”) have on the environment, the economy, and human health? What are the risks posed by the growing ubiquity of digital technologies? What chain reactions could future financial crises trigger? What are the impacts of climate change and its implications for social justice? These questions – and many more - are the focus of research concerning “systemic risks”. Systemic risks are characterized by the global scale of their impacts, coupled with a high degree of complexity and interconnectivity. In order to tackle these challenges, research that investigates systemic risks has to analyze the interdependencies between science and society, with a particular focus on the handling of systemic risks and scientific uncertainty across a range of fields, including business, technology, the environment, and society, with a view to identifying common patterns and structural features of systemic risk. The symposium convenes an international panel of leading experts from a variety of scientific disciplines, thereby highlighting the interdisciplinary character of systemic risk research. Talks will focus on conceptional issues of research dealing with systemic risks, institutional requirements against the backdrop of new social and political orders, risk and resilience, as well as obstacles and challenges of governance.

W4-G.1  3:30 pm  Governance of Systemic Risks: Challenges and Potential Solutions . Schweizer PJ*; Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam

Abstract: Systemic risks, such as climate change, financial crises, and epidemics, can be characterized by four major properties. First, systemic risks are characterized by scientific complexity and epistemological uncertainty. Science cannot identify exact hazard probabilities. Instead, science utilizes models of scenario building to sketch out the stochastic nature of systemic risks. Second, systemic risks are transboundary and global in nature. They transgress nation states and call for international cooperation. Third, although systemic risks originate in one subsystem of society or the environment, the ripple effects of these risks affect all social subsystems, such as the economy, politics, and civil society. Fourth, future technological and societal developments are non-linear. Science struggles to identify tipping points of technological and social trends. Nevertheless, political decision makers call for scientific advice to govern our emergent future. Effective, inclusive governance strategies are necessary to pursue the goals of resilience and sustainable development. Systemic risks governance demands cooperative management efforts of experts, corporate sector, civil society and regulators. Effective risk management must strike a balance between efficiency and resilience, and the solutions devised must be fair to all people affected. The presentation will pay special attention to the ways in which complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity pose challenges to governance of systemic risks. The meta-theoretical concept of inclusive governance serves as a guiding framework. The challenges posed by systemic risks call for the balanced integration of all kinds of knowledge (factual, experimental, local, anecdotal, etc.) in risk governance. By the same token, values and societal preferences need to be taken into account in order to reach socially acceptable decisions. Consequentially, the demand for the inclusion of various stakeholders at an early stage in the governance process poses new challenges to institutionalized routines of decision making.

W4-G.2  3:50 pm  Risk and resilience in complex systems: review of concepts and assessment methods. Linkov I*, Madchese D, Fox-Lent C, Trump B; US Army Engineer Research and Development Center

Abstract: Risk-based approaches have been used to assess threats and mitigate consequences associated with their impact. Risk assessment requires quantifying the risk of failure for each component of a system and associated uncertainties, with the goal of identifying each component’s contribution to the overall risk and ascertaining if one component poses substantially more risk than the others. These components become the basis of quantitative benchmarks for the system, and becomes the de facto standard for system improvements designed to buy down risk. Rapid technological evolution, combined with the unprecedented nature and extent of emerging threats defy us to enumerate all potential hazards, much less estimate reliable probabilities of occurrence and the magnitude of consequences. A comprehensive approach to protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure, economy, and well-being must be risk based—not risk exclusive—and must provide a way for decision makers to make their organizational systems resilient to a range of threats within specific cost and time restraints. In contrast to the definition of risk, resilience is focused on the ability to prepare and recover quickly from threats which may be known or unknown. Resilience is a property of the system itself and can be measured without identification and assessment of threats which act on or within a system. Managing for resilience requires ensuring a system’s ability to plan and prepare for a threat, and then absorb, recover, and adapt. Coupled with a systems view that decomposes components across physical, information, cognitive, and social environments in which the system exists, is the basis of an approach to quantifying resilience with decision analytical tools and network science approaches.

W4-G.3  4:10 pm  Re-ordering risk and uncertainty: Implications for cosmopolitan risk governance . Klinke A*; University of Newfoundland

Abstract: The world of uncertainty and risk is an encounter of precarious, transitory and contingent appearances of things, and patterns of regular natural and social processes that allow human interference and projection. Humans experience uncertainty in the lifeworld, present and future activities, collective codes of conduct, social life and organization of social being. I re-order uncertainty as of ontological, epistemological and teleological nature, which I correlate with an order of problematic risks that I distinguish as systemic, structural and transformative. Systemic risks, e.g. climate change and loss of biodiversity, are global threats that are highly complex and stochastic of nature, they can reach tipping points, and they are often ambiguously interpreted. Structural risks, e.g. corruption, modern slavery and social inequality, emerge through structures and processes of existing social and political orders, in particular in terms of prevailing values, norms, institutions, discourses and power relations. Transformative risks, e.g. energy transitions, transformation of democracy and transfiguration of socio-political orders, occur in the course of profound global changes that ignite dynamics, processes and forces inducing new challenges for traditional structures and orders because major changes in society and politics are shifting from established manners, customs, and modes of behavior to new norms and values. In this light, I draw implications for cosmopolitan risk governance. What can we learn for the configuration of cosmopolitan governance? I argue for a self-governing approach with a polyarchic network structure that succeeds by means of functional differentiation in the form of distributed and differentiated responsibilities. I demonstrate how ordering uncertainty and risk and cosmopolitan governance can reinforce each other and illuminate our thinking about the global governability of uncertainty and risk.

W4-G.4  4:30 pm  Risk Governance and the Crisis of Expertise. Wong CML*; University of Luxembourg

Abstract: The U.S. Elections and Brexit vote of 2016 brought to light the rise in populism as a blowback effect from decades of uneven globalization. A key underpinning feature of this trend is the crisis of expertise both in terms of the legitimacy of expert knowledge as well as the ability of expert knowledge systems to forecast or anticipate future hazards and disasters, natural or otherwise. As a normative framework, the risk governance scholarship have attempted to address the legitimacy of decisions and ability to anticipate risks by providing greater clarity on the different characteristics of risk problems and uncertainties. But as a mode of practice risk governance has been less adequate in gaining traction among policy elites. This raises a number of new challenges for risk governance as a concept and in practice: 1) how to translate risk governance as a normative framework into a mode of practice; 2) how to make use of expertise in an era when expertise is suspect; 3) how to evaluate expertise in risk governance processes; and 4) how to evaluate the legitimacy of risk governance as an expert process itself. This paper approaches these challenges by exploring a range of planning tools and institutional arrangements that can help strengthen the ability of risk governance to adapt to and address the crisis of expertise and build bridges across scientific communities and between experts and publics.

W4-G.5  4:50 pm  Dealing with complexity and connectivity: the challenge of systemix risks. Renn O.R.*, Jaeger C., Lucas K.; Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS)

Abstract: ABSTRACT The history of the last four decades has been a success story in terms of conventional risk management. All data show that life expectancy is increasing, accidents become less frequent and habitual risks less severe. The picture becomes, however, less favorable if we look at globally interconnected, non-linear risks such as those posed, for example, by climate change or the global financial system and the closely related growing inequality between rich and poor. Systemic risks can be characterized by four major properties: they are (1) global in nature, (2) highly interconnected and intertwined leading to complex causal structures, (3) non-linear in the cause-effect relationships and (4) stochastic in their effect structure. The main features of systemic risks include ripple effects beyond the domain in which the risks originally appear and the threat of a multiple breakdown of important or critical services to society. The main problem is that it is often difficult to predict when a system will suffer a breakdown or collapse. Governance of systemic risks require strategies that address the complexity, scientific uncertainty and socio-political ambiguity of its underlying relationships. However, national as well as international attempts to address systemic risks have decoupled risk anticipation from sustainable and resilient risk management processes and structures. Public participation has proven to be an important part and often key driver for successful and legitimate risk governance for advancing effective policies to curb systemic risks. In the end risk management and communication needs to address the four characteristics of systemic risks and develop the appropriate instruments to deal with global, interconnected, stochastic and non-linear risks.

[back to schedule]