Research to Guide a World in Transition: The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

By Pavel Kabat

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Pavel Kabat commenced his appointment as the director/CEO of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in February 2012. IIASA is an international research organization based in Laxenburg, Austria, with international memberships that encompass research communities in 19 countries, including the United States and Austria. IIASA's research is focused on resolving issues of global change – specifically climate change and energy, food and water, and poverty and equity. Here, Kabat outlines his vision for IIASA and the potential of systems science to resolve complex global challenges.

Pavel KabatPavel KabatGlobal environmental change, economic turmoil, population growth, and increasing social instability in many regions of the world pose urgent challenges for governments, international organizations, and the science community. Many communities struggle on a daily basis with the already too prevalent consequences of these changes: food insecurity, lack of access to clean, reliable supplies of water and energy, or the unintended health and environmental issues associated with carbon-based energy sources.

While these issues are socially and economically challenging, humans have repeatedly shown that, through ingenuity and political will, it is possible to resolve seemingly insurmountable problems.

At IIASA we are strongly convinced that, by analyzing these issues in an integrated "systems" way, it is possible to better understand cause and effect and thereby develop responses that can generate benefits in many areas (co-benefits). IIASA researchers have demonstrated their capacity to facilitate, coordinate, and/or deliver large-scale, multi-sectoral analyses.

Some notable examples of this approach include IIASA's co-benefits research on air pollution and human and environmental health, using the IIASA-developed Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) model, acknowledged by the UN and many in the policy-making community to be a key tool for informing clean-air policies and initiatives.

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