August 24-26, 2011 - Venice, Italy
On 24-26 August 2011, IRGC organised an expert workshop on how to deal with risks that evolve slowly in a context of complex systems and that may have potentially catastrophic consequences. Their slow pace of evolution makes changes less perceptible, leading to their going unnoticed or - in the case that they are identified - being ignored because the change seems too small or gradual to warrant concern. Often, potential consequences seem so far off in the distant future that immediate action is dis-incentivised, because of high short-term costs and uncertain long-term benefits. However, in complex systems, small changes can sometimes lead to sudden and significant changes in behaviour and regime shifts, a point from which it is difficult or impossible to reverse the course of change and avert disaster. Examples of contexts in which such risk may materialise include ecosystems or demographic and social change.
IRGC organized this workshop because of its interest in identifying mechanisms that could be put in place in order to improve the governance of these types of risks, including the mechanisms by which:
*scientists can better anticipate the evolution of such risks;
* decision-makers' are better equiped to act .
The workshop was held in collaboration with the Istituto Veneto at the Palazzo Loredan in San Marco, Campo S. Stefano.
For more information about IRGC's work, please see www.irgc.org.