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complex systems science gatheringS

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Complex Systems Science Gathering Stockholm

Pre-COVID, the Center for Emergent Diplomacy co-convened and facilitated a Complex Systems Science Gathering in Stockholm, Sweden. The gathering brought leading specialists in Complexity Science from around the world together with Swedish experts and practitioners to launch an exploration of a possible role for Complexity thinking in addressing the catastrophic risks of collapse faced by the global warming and biodiversity crisis, along with a consumer-dominated growth economy out of control. The intent was to introduce and test a new facilitated problem-solving methodology to enhance the opportunity for generative dialogue around innovative solutions for tackling climate change in the uncertain future. “The Adjacent Possible” (“TAP”) concept emerged from the theory of Complex Adaptive Systems science, operationalized as the “TAP” group process for navigating an unknown and frightening future. The methodology helps participants in transdisciplinary discussions move into a dialogue space of emergent creativity leading to unprecedented ideas for a hopeful and sustainable future. 

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Planetary Balance Virtual Gathering

One year later, the Center for Emergent Diplomacy co-organized another gathering that was held online. The purpose of this gathering was to report on progress since the initial conference and discuss the launch of the Planetary Boundary Foundation in Stockholm, with a mission of support for the best projects that move climate change strategies from ideas to action. The exchanges at the 2020 gathering provided a rich cross-fertilization of perspectives and initiated a process of networking among experts from different and complementary areas of expertise. Two hundred Complexity thinkers are now connected, and several new collaborations are already underway. 

Feedback From Delegates to the Gatherings

“Stockholm, and Sweden more generally, have become something of a vortex for climate change. Your meeting has crossed immense conceptual areas from politics to economics to industry.  You can imagine how difficult it would be to do that in the US. I don’t know for certain how international relationships work in Sweden, but if your meeting is any indication, high-level contacts are not a problem. After seeing the (non)results from COP25 in Madrid, I think that what happened in Stockholm may be even more important than I would have guessed.” 


              - Dr. Gary Metcalf, President International Federation for Systems Research
















" A meeting in Stockholm brought together nine leading international specialists in complexity science with local experts and practitioners to launch an exploration of the catastrophic risks of collapse in the present global society faced by the climate and biodiversity crises and a materialistic economy out of control. The aim was to try to find ways forward towards the adjacent possible that might provide hope for the future. 

The linear path of strategic thinking is not working.  Solving the climate change problem requires imagination and deep humility. At this gathering, a number of key questions were raised. How do we deal with an economy that is out of control? What do we need to unlearn? What rules do we need to live in peace with ourselves and the world? Living systems are self-regulating. What would nature do? How do we learn from nature and work for the recovery of the Earth? What new conception of ethics and morality can be grounded in complexity theory? What new narrative do we need to communicate to bring change? How do we influence people and get them to stop believing that they are powerless? How do we co-create the future?”  

           - Dr. Arthur Dahl, Coordinator UN Systemwide Earthwatch, United Nations Environment Program






















"I write to express very deep gratitude for organizing with Swedish inventor and entrepreneur Lars Larson, the meeting in Stockholm in December, 2019. Our broad topic was The Global Economy and the Anthropocene. The group that met was open, serious, and inventive. Our discussions were very good. The facilitation of the group worked very well indeed. I have been to many scientific conferences. This was outstanding. Merci! I strongly advise that we meet again as soon as possible. We need to pursue the work, and find wide pathways of outreach. We confront a crisis that is civilization and global in scale, and existential."

       - Dr. Stuart Kauffman, Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania and Affiliate Faculty at  the Institute for Systems Biology. MacArthur Fellow and Wiener Medal recipient

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