LECHNER, Stephan

Director, Institute for the Protection and the Security of the Citizen (IPSC) at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC)




14:30-16:00 6 NOVEMBER

Resilience in a globalised society can no longer be considered in isolation: sectors such as energy, environment and economy are tightly coupled and related decisions, whether policy or practise, are often made under competing circumstances. There is also a temptation to focus on short term goals rather than on long term sustainability. An economic driven necessity underpinning short term goals, taken to the extreme, can lead to an increase of risks with dramatic impacts e.g. the collapse of the banking sector, single accidents causing significant environmental damage or irreversible climate change effects. The entrepreneurial attitude of risk taking is beneficial if profit and the risk remain in the same entity. In constellations where huge profits can be made by leaving even bigger risks to others, regulation should intervene.

Understanding risk in a globally connected environment is extremely difficult. The complex banking market with highly sophisticated (and sometimes equally risky) products has shown in the financial crisis that systemic risk can be contagious and from the private sector to affect sovereign debt. The nuclear incident in Fukushima has created unexpected interruptions in supply chains and uncontrolled digital algorithms have destroyed billions within seconds in flash crashes in stock exchanges.

To develop resilience, the links between sectors such as climate, environment, economy, finance and the digital world have to be understood better. Science can provide adequate tools such as models for the simulation of complex interdependencies and also help both assess risks and identify emerging ones in our globalised world. In other words, science can help provide the evidence and basis for better regulation that inspires appropriate incentives for balancing the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future ones to meet their own needs in a confined planet with increasingly limited resources.