Global Systemic Risk

The risks we study do not exist in isolation: they are part of a complex and interconnected global risk landscape. How should this inform efforts to assess and mitigate global risk?

The different drivers of global catastrophic risk (GCR), such as AI, biotechnology, climate change, and nuclear war, are typically studied separately. Yet global society — and thus the global risk landscape — is highly interconnected. This means that risk can emerge in complex ways: risk drivers can interact with each other, smaller localised shocks can lead to cascading nonlinear impacts, and slow long-term stresses can erode the global system’s resilience to catastrophe. 

Broadly speaking, such behaviour is captured by the term “systemic risk” (as well as related ideas like polycrisis). Existing work on GCR has made only limited connections to systemic risk, and systemic risk engages only rarely with worst-case outcomes. Our work seeks to change this. 

Our contributions

CSER researchers led early contributions to this field, including: 

We are actively collaborating with the United Nations Accelerator for Systemic Risk Assessment (ASRA), recently contributed to a United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) report on hazards with (global) escalation potential, and are  working with the G20 on the global governance of systemic risk (including on the prospects of a post-2030 global disaster risk regime). We have also been involved in building the research community around global systemic risk and polycrisis, most recently in collaboration with the Cascade Institute, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the Research Institute for Sustainability.

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