Strategic Initiatives Program (SI)

The SI Program engages in active horizon scanning to identify global and/or regional initiatives of high strategic impact in order to continuously push the boundaries of systemic analyses in an environment that is relevant to both policy and society at large.

© Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime

© Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime

The program works closely with the IIASA National Member Organizations (NMOs) to identify NMO specific research interests and needs, and leverage the expertise available across the institute to break new ground in systems research and applications while also establishing and building strategic partnerships. IIASA Strategic Initiatives are time bound and set up via periodic competitive, rigorously scrutinized, internal calls for proposals. Initiatives are selected based on their ability to draw on cross-program expertise and expand the IIASA research portfolio beyond that identified in the research plans of other programs. The Initiatives pursued under the auspices of the program are typically of value and interest to several or all NMOs and serves as a vehicle to better align the research interests of NMOs and IIASA, albeit with a clear focus on themes identified in the IIASA strategy. 

The 2021 Internal IIASA Call for Strategic Initiatives closed on April 23, and after a rigurous selection process, the following two Initiatives were awarded: 

Project fairSTREAM

The fairSTREAM project will investigate wicked policy issues at the food-water-biodiversity nexus as conflicting views on procedural and outcome fairness that often remain unresolved. Improving our ability to understand and reconcile these claims about what is fair, is key for managing risks in this complex and rapidly changing nexus system.

This is a major challenge that requires the integration of multiple sources of knowledge and the cooperation of many different societal actors. FairSTREAM will support this endeavour by developing fair procedures that enable the promotion of fair outcomes. To this extent, we will first create a methods toolkit for co-production by reviewing existing IIASA co-production processes as part of an extensive interdisciplinary methods analysis. Based on this toolkit we will then design and implement a co-production process that explicitly considers fairness (i.e., procedural and distributional justice) for one prospective case: the

Bhima basin in India, which highlights critical questions at the food-water-biodiversity nexus.

Furthermore, we will support the co-production process by quantifying and simulating stakeholder visions for future development of the region by building a large-scale agent-based model that simulates millions of individual farmers and is coupled to a hydrological and biodiversity model.

Credit: Cathy Becker Flickr

Project Just Transitions to net zero carbon emission for all - JustTrans4ALL

In support of the IIASA Strategy, the JustTrans4All project will contribute to novel analyses of transition pathways that are socially and environmentally just. The project will inform policy design aiming at achieving high levels of human wellbeing within planetary boundaries, in line with the UN 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

We aim to develop, quantify and test the first comprehensive set of just transition scenarios towards a net-zero carbon society. We will combine a soft-systems analysis approach grounded in ethical reasoning with quantitative, empirical, and prospective model-based techniques, contributing to advancing systems analysis.

JustTrans4All will enhance IIASA’s policy impact by providing guidance on designing policies for socio-ecological transformation that enjoy societal support and leave no one behind. It brings together researchers of diverse disciplinary backgrounds and scientific approaches from three programs (ECE, EF, POPJUS). NMOs are invited to collaborate in developing and applying the new framework and scenarios to their country’s context and engage in capacity enhancement for early-career researchers.

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Last edited: 17 March 2021


Steffen Fritz

Program Director and Principal Research Scholar Strategic Initiatives Program

Principal Research Scholar Novel Data Ecosystems for Sustainability Research Group - Advancing Systems Analysis Program

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313