Hosted by His Excellency General The Honourable
David Hurley AC DSC (ret’d), Governor of NSW
and Patron of the Royal Society of NSW
Society as a complex system: implications for science, practice and policy
Date: Tuesday 29th November 2016
Venue: Government House, Sydney
Note: This event was by invitation only
We live in an increasingly complex world, where the challenges of complexity must be taken seriously. The problems to be confronted challenge existing institutional structures because they cross national and interdisciplinary borders and cannot be reduced to component problems to be solved independently – they are intrinsically inseparable and interdependent. They include: the world’s developed economies struggling to deliver the growth and prosperity that was achieved in the second half of the 20th century; increasing discrepancies between rich and poor sparking flight and fight; the impact of people on the environment in which they live; the pace of technological change. These “wicked problems” challenge traditional policy making process leading to policy paralysis. Decisions about economic policy, migration and refugees, environmental challenges, health, education and infrastructure development are delayed or abandoned because of the difficulty in gaining public acceptance. Conflicting philosophical positions, widely differing worldviews and belief-systems, the increasing globalisation of firms and industries, the increased influence of special-interest groups made louder through new social media, the polarisation of political views, conflicting policy objectives coupled with an avalanche of data to make sense of are among the many contributors to this policy paralysis. The complex-systems nature of these challenges means that small changes can have disproportionate effects, the future is impossible to predict, and multiple feedback loops multiply and accelerate in myriad ways.
How we can understand, cope and adapt to these challenges was the focus of the 2016 Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Forum.
Click here to see the programme of presentations.