timeline
Welcome to Fifty Years of IIASA, a timeline highlighting 50 selected milestones of achievement in groundbreaking systems analysis research from across the globe since the founding of IIASA in 1972.

If you have any images or achievements you think should be added, please contact images@iiasa.ac.at
TIMELINE

50 years of achievements

1970

1972

Founding of IIASA

At the height of the Cold War, 12 nations from the East and West meet in London to sign the charter establishing IIASA in the neutral setting of Austria.

Signing the IIASA charter in 1972

Signing the IIASA charter in 1972

1974

Expansion of IIASA's study of advanced systems science

George Dantzig, winner of the US National Medal of Science, is joined at IIASA by Nobel Prize laurates Tjalling Koopmans (USA) and Leonid Kantorovich (USSR) to expand IIASA's study of advanced systems science and methodology.

Left to right: Tjalling Koopmans, George Dantzig, and Leonid Kantorovich © IIASA

Left to right: Tjalling Koopmans, George Dantzig, and Leonid Kantorovich

1975

Publication: Nordhaus WD (1975). Can We Control Carbon Dioxide? IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-75-063

William D. Nordhaus received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his research in integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis. Nordhaus’s first economic model of global warming was published at IIASA in 1975 entitled “Can we control Carbon Dioxide?”. Many climate change models trace their conceptual and methodical roots to models developed by Nordhaus at IIASA.

Publication: Nordhaus WD (1975)

1977

The first Young Scientists Summer Programme

The first Young Scientists Summer Programme is a huge success, and since 1977 IIASA has attracted over 2100 talented young scientists to spend a summer working with scholars from other nations and disciplines. Many go on to take senior posts in academia, business, and government.

Young Scientist Summer Program 1979 © IIASA

Young Scientist Summer Program 1979

1978

Publication: Williams J (1978). Carbon Dioxide, Climate and Society: Proceedings of an IIASA Workshop, February 21-24, 1978. Oxford: Pergamon Press. ISBN 9781483159355

IIASA scientists warn the world about the dangers of climate change and suggest pioneering solutions such as capturing and storing carbon. IIASA was one of the two institutions worldwide that, by the mid-1970s, already had an established research program on climate change and policy.

Publication: Williams J (1978)

1978

Publication: Holling CS (1978). Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781932846072

A new research field, Adaptive Ecosystem Policy and Management, is founded at IIASA based on results of a study relating forest conditions to pest propagation that has implications for forest management policy throughout North America and Scandinavia.

Publication: Holling CS (1978)
1980

1980

IIASA researchers develop projections of population aging in developed countries

A chance conversation between IIASA colleagues brings unexpected results. James Vaupel, a US demographer mentions a scientific problem to Soviet mathematician, Anatoli Yashin. "I think I can help," Yashin replies. The two go on to develop more reliable projections of population aging in developed countries.

© Artanika | Dreamstime.com

1981

Publication: Häfele W, Anderer J, McDonald A, & Nakicenovic N (1981). Energy in a Finite World: Paths to a Sustainable Future (Volume 1). Cambridge, MA: Ballinger. ISBN 0-88410-641-1

IIASA publishes the first comprehensive, truly global assessments of energy issues, resulting in the internationally acclaimed report, Energy in a Finite World.

Publication: Häfele W, Anderer J, McDonald A, & Nakicenovic N (1981)

1982

IIASA conducts a study on the eutrophication of Lake Balaton influencing water policy worldwide

An IIASA research team of chemists, biologists, mathematicians, engineers, hydrologists, economists, computer specialists, and managers completes a study on eutrophication and management of Lake Balaton, central Europe's largest lake. Its findings influence water policy in Italy, Japan, the USA, and the USSR.

IIASA conducts a study on the eutrophication of Lake Balaton influencing water policy worldwide

1983

Publication: Arthur WB (1983). On Competing Technologies and Historical Small Events: The Dynamics of Choice under Increasing Returns. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-83-090

Groundbreaking research by an IIASA scholar provides the intellectual underpinnings for the later US Department of Justice's antitrust case against Microsoft. The findings pioneered the modern approach to increasing returns which shows how powerful firms can exploit the particular nature of high-tech markets to the disadvantage of opponents who offer better products.

Publication: Arthur WB (1983)

1983

A computer network across the Iron Curtain

IIASA researchers establish the first permanent computer network connections for science and research between the East and West during the Cold War era and 10 years before the Internet.

The IIASA computer net in 1983 © IIASA

The IIASA computer net in 1983

1986

Publication: Clark WC & Munn RE (1986). Sustainable Development of the Biosphere. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521323697

IIASA scholars publish Sustainable Development of the Biosphere, which is quickly accepted by the science community as the core scientific text on sustainable development.

Publication: Clark WC & Munn RE (1986)

1988

Publication: Parry ML, Carter TR, & Konijn N (1988). The Impact of Climatic Variations on Agriculture. Vol. 1: Assessments in Cool, Temperate and Cold Regions. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-277-2700-7.
Parry ML, Carter TR, & Konijn N (1988). The Impact of Climatic Variations on Agriculture. Vol. 2: Assessments in Semi-Arid Regions. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-277-2719-8

In response to mounting tensions regarding global food issues, IIASA creates an unprecedented computer model that links national agriculture models. Named Basic Linked System, it becomes a practical tool for determining the effectiveness of policies to eliminate hunger and the impacts of agricultural trade liberalization.

Publication: Parry ML, Carter TR, & Konijn N (1988)

1989

Scientific model of Europe's acid rain problem is adopted at the Geneva Convention on Transboundary Air Pollution

IIASA's scientific model of Europe's acid rain problem is officially adopted by the 28 countries of the Geneva Convention on Transboundary Air Pollution as the main technical support for renegotiation of the treaty. This is the first time that all parties to a major international treaty agree to accept a single scientific model.

RAINS generated maps of sulphur emissions in Europe for various scenarios and years
1990

1991

Publication: Peck MJ & Richardson TJ (1991). What Is To Be Done? Proposals for the Soviet Transition to the Market. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05466-1

IIASA brings together leading economists from Eastern and Western Europe, Japan, USA, and USSR to identify economic reforms to help the Soviet Union overcome its economic crisis and make the transition into a market economy in the 1990s. Several participants of the IIASA project subsequently return to Russia as Government Ministers and implement many of the project’s recommendations.

Publication: Peck MJ & Richardson TJ (1991)

1992

Publication: Nilsson S, Sallnaes O, & Duinker P (1992). Future Forest Resources of Western and Eastern Europe. Lancaster: The Parthenon Publishing Group. ISBN 1-85070-424-4. Nilsson S, Sallnaes O, Hugosson M, & Shvidenko A (1992).
The Forest Resources of the Former European USSR. Lancaster: The Parthenon Publishing Group. ISBN 1-85070-425-2

IIASA researchers complete the first consistent continent-wide assessment of forest resources in Europe and the European regions of the former Soviet Union, revealing the alarming consequences of air pollution for European forests.

Publication: Nilsson S, Sallnaes O, & Duinker P (1992)

1994

Publication: Alcamo J, Shaw RW, & Hordijk L (1990). The RAINS Model of Acidification. Science and Strategies in Europe. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-0781-X

IIASA’s scientific model of Europe’s acid rain problem, known as the Regional Acidification Information and Simulation (RAINS) Model, underpins the agreement of 33 European governments to reduce damaging emissions of sulfur dioxide. It is officially adopted by the 33 countries of the Geneva Convention on Transboundary Air Pollution as the main technical support for renegotiation of the treaty.

Publication: Alcamo J, Shaw RW, & Hordijk L (1990)

1995

IIASA scholars chosen for leading roles in IPCC

Five IIASA scientists are chosen to be Lead Authors of the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Since then, over 40 IIASA scholars have played leading roles in the IPCC's third, fourth, fifth, and sixth assessment reports, which provide the world with the most scientifically advanced, comprehensive, and rigorous analysis of the state of climate change.

From left to right: Hans Holger Rogner, Arnulf Gruebler, Leo Schrattenholzer, naki IIASA IPCC authors AR2 © IIASA

From left to right: Hans-Holger Rogner, Arnulf Gruebler, Leo Schrattenholzer, and Nebojsa Nakicenovic

1995

RAINS model extended to analyse sulfur dioxide emissions in Asia

Funded by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, the RAINS model is extended to facilitate the analysis of sulfur dioxide pollution in Asia and is presented to energy planners and government officials in 18 Southeast Asian nations.

RAINS model extended to analyse sulfur dioxide emissions in Asia

1996

Publication: Lutz W (1996). The Future Population of the World: What Can We Assume Today? London: Earthscan. ISBN 1853833495

A second edition of the IIASA book The Future Population of the World: What Can We Assume Today? is published. It includes the first-ever probabilistic population scenarios (predicting world population will probably never double again) and new findings on population aging.

Publication: Lutz W (1996)

1998

Publication: Nakicenovic N , Grubler A , & McDonald A (1998). Global Energy Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The World Energy Council partners with IIASA in a unique study on Global Energy Perspectives. This analyzes how current and near-term energy decisions will have long-lasting implications throughout the twenty-first century. The findings of the five-year study are presented at the World Energy Congress in 1995 and 1998, and the results published in a Cambridge University Press book in 1998.

Publication: Nakicenovic N , Grubler A , & McDonald A (1998)
2000

2000

Publication: Nakicenovic N , Alcamo J, Grubler A , Riahi K , Roehrl RA, Rogner H-H, & Victor N (2000). Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), A Special Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80493-0

IIASA scientists and models play a leading role in preparing the most comprehensive and sophisticated scenarios yet of greenhouse gas emissions for the twenty-first century. The work is published as the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Cambridge University Press in 2000.

Publication: Nakicenovic N , Alcamo J, Grubler A , Riahi K , Roehrl RA, Rogner H-H, & Victor N (2000)

2001

Publication: Lutz W, Sanderson WC, & Scherbov S (2001). The end of world population growth. Nature 412 (6846): 543-545. DOI:10.1038/35087589.

IIASA demographers are first to forecast in a Nature article that the world population will peak in the twenty-first century and then begin to decline.

© Andreus | Dreamstime.com

2002

Completion of study on Russian forests and land resources.

IIASA scientists complete the most comprehensive study of Russian forests and land resources ever undertaken. Results are presented to President Putin of Russia.

© Oleg Morgun | Dreamstime.com Photo from a quadrocopter of a  the taiga in the Kostroma region of Russia

2002

Publication: Climate Change and Agricultural Vulnerability By G. Fischer, M.M. Shah and H.T. van Velthuizen.

The United Nations commissions IIASA scientists to analyze the likely impacts of climate change on agriculture to 2080. The influential report is published at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. It highlights the need to focus on extending the mitigation scope of the Kyoto Protocol and put the issue of adaptation to climate change on the global agenda of international negotiations.

Climate Change and Agricultural Vulnerability

2004

Publication: Dieckmann U , Doebeli M, Metz JAJ, & Tautz D (2004). Adaptive Speciation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107404182 DOI:10.2277/0521828422.

IIASA scientists reveal that undesirable genetic changes are taking place in fish stocks as a result of commercial exploitation. Documentation of these evolutionary changes could have provided a valuable early warning signal of the collapse of a fish stock such as the northern cod in the early 1990s.

Adaptive Speciation

2005

Publication: Linnerooth-Bayer J, Mechler R , & Pflug GC (2005). Refocusing disaster aid. Science 309 (5737): 1044-1046. DOI:10.1126/science.1116783.

Disaster aid is often too little and too late. It also discourages governments and individuals from taking advantage of the high returns to preventive action. In a Science article, scholars from the IIASA Risk, Modeling and Society Program identified several innovative approaches to free vulnerable countries from dependence on unpredictable post-disaster assistance.

Signing of the IIASA Charter

2007

IIASA scientists receive a shared Nobel Peace Prize

IIASA scientists share the Nobel Peace Prize with authors of the IPCC reports and Al Gore for "their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change." They follow in the footsteps of Nobel Prize laurates who have worked at IIASA: Tjalling Koopmans and Leonid Kantorovich (Economics, 1974); Paul Crutzen (Chemistry; 1995); and Thomas Schelling (Economics, 2005).

IIASA scientists receive a shared Nobel Peace Prize

2008

Publication: Lutz, W., Sanderson, W.C., & Scherbov, S. The coming acceleration of global population ageing. Nature, 451(7179), 716–719

IIASA demographers show that global speed of ageing is likely to peak between 2020 and 2030, and then decelerate, although there will be further increases in the level of ageing throughout the century. The journal artilcle becomes one of the most cited papers on global aging.

Publication: Lutz, W., Sanderson, W.C., & Scherbov, S. The coming acceleration of global population ageing. Nature, 451(7179), 716–719

2008

IIASA research guides the EU on reducing greenhouse gas emissions

IIASA analyses provides quantitative information to the European Commission for the proposal and subsequent negotiations on the EU Climate and Energy Package, which was accepted by the European Council in 2008 and aims, inter alia, at a 20 percent reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

© Rashpil | Dreamstime.com

2008

Publication: Crutzen, P.J., Mosier, A.R., Smith, K.A., & Winiwarter, W. (2008). N2O release from agro-biofuel production negates global warming reduction by replacing fossil fuels. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 8 389-395.

Research from IIASA and partners warns that the production of commonly used biofuels, such as biodiesel from rapeseed and bioethanol from corn (maize), depending on nitrogen fertilizer uptake efficiency by the plants, can contribute as much or more to global warming by nitrous oxide emissions than cooling by fossil fuel savings.

Crutzen, P.J., Mosier, A.R., Smith, K.A., & Winiwarter, W. (2008)
2010

2011

Publications: van Vuuren DP, Edmonds J, Kainuma M, Riahi K , & Weyant J (2011). A special issue on the RCPs. Climatic Change 109 (1): 1-4. DOI:10.1007/s10584-011-0157-y.

IIASA co-develops and hosts the Representative Concentration Pathways database, equipping the climate change research community with common greenhouse gas emissions data.

A special issue on the RCPs. Climatic Change 109

2012

Publication: Shindell DT, Kuylenstierna JCI, Vignati E, van Dingenen R, Amann M, Klimont Z , Kupiainen K, & Hoeglund-Isaksson L (2012). Simultaneously mitigating near-term climate change and improving human health and food security. Science 335 (6065): 183-189. DOI:10.1126/science.1210026.

IIASA and partners identify 14 measures to reduce short lived climate forcers, providing scientific evidence for the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and its 73 state partners.

A special issue on the RCPs. Climatic Change 109

2012

Publication: GEA Writing Team (2012). Global Energy Assessment: Toward a Sustainable Future. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521182935.

IIASA published the Global Energy Assessment, the first ever fully integrated assessment of its kind that went on to provide the scientific basis and key objectives for the UN Sustainable Development Goal #7 on ensuring access to sustainable energy for all.

A special issue on the RCPs. Climatic Change 109

2013

Launching Geo Wiki.

IIASA and partners launch a revamped Geo Wiki to harness the power of citizen science to collect and verify land cover data, thereby dramatically improving the quality of the data.

Launching Geo Wiki

2014

Modeling results inform European Commission policy.

The European Commission agrees a proposal for new climate and energy targets for 2030 informed by IIASA modeling results.

© Wessel Cirkel | Dreamstime.com Solar energy is generated at the Latschenalm in the mountains north of the Austrian town of Gerlos in Tyrol.

2014

Publication: Lutz W, Butz WP, & KC S (2014). World Population & Human Capital in the Twenty-first Century. UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198703163.

IIASA publishes the first population projections that include level of educational attainment for all countries of the world. The projections are based on the broadest synthesis of expert knowledge on drivers of fertility, mortality, migration, and education in all parts of the world.

Publication: Lutz W, Butz WP, & KC S (2014). World Population & Human Capital in the Twenty-first Century. UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198703163.

2014

Challenges and Opportunities of Economic Integration within a Wider European and Eurasian Space. Publications

IIASA brings together high-level officials and experts from the European Commission, the Eurasian Economic Commission, member states of the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as other European and Asian countries, to explore the challenges and opportunities of establishing closer economic relations and an eventual creation of a “common economic space from Lisbon to Vladivostok.” Through a series of workshops and other events that take place between 2014 and 2019, the sides enhance mutual understanding.

Challenges and Opportunities of Economic Integration within a Wider European and Eurasian Space.

2015

SDGs formally adopted

The Sustainable Development Goals are formally adopted, with IIASA science underpinning goals on tackling climate change and ensuring access to sustainable energy for all.

SDGs formally adopted

2015

IIASA involvement in talks leading up to Paris Agreement

IIASA science contributed to talks leading up to the Paris Agreement, providing the only study to show that it was technologically feasible to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

IIASA involvement in talks leading up to Paris Agreement

2016

Publication: Valin H, Peters D, van den Berg M, Frank S, Havlik P, Forsell N, Hamelinck C (2015). The land use change impact of biofuels consumed in the EU: Quantification of area and greenhouse gas impacts.

Research by IIASA and partners into the land use change impacts and the related greenhouse gas emissions of the biofuel feedstocks consumed in the European Union provides inputs to the revisions of the EU Renewable Energy Directive including the introduction of biofuels sustainability criteria for all biofuels produced or consumed in the EU.

SDGs formally adopted

2017

Demonstrating the priority for investment in education in Germany

A decade of IIASA demographic research demonstrating why education should be the priority investment for development budgets informs the German Federal Ministry for Development’s decision to allocate 25% of its entire funding for education.

Demonstrating the priority for investment in education in Germany

2018

Influencing Zambezi river strategic planning

The Zambezi River Basin Commission develops a strategic plan for water, energy, and food management based on findings from an IIASA-led study.

Influencing Zambezi river strategic planning

2018

Publication: The IPCC publishes its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C which highlights the strong benefits to humanity and ecosystems of keeping global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Writing the report involves 91 authors and 133 contributing authors from 40 countries—of these authors, 12 are from IIASA.

Publication

2018

Renewing the partnership with the Zurich Food Resilience Alliance

The Zurich Food Resilience Alliance renewed its partnership with IIASA to apply its research into systemic risks to help render two million people around the globe resilient against flooding.

Renewing the partnership with the Zurich Food Resilience Alliance

Pictured: Parvati Gurung, Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Nepal, is responsible for flood early-warning for thousands of people in the Karnali River basin.

2019

Sanderson, W.C., Scherbov S. Prospective Longevity: A New Vision of Population Aging. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

IIASA demographers introduce a completely new way of measuring at aging. The old age threshold is defined not only by chronological age but takes into account people's life expectancy, cognitive and physical health among others.

Prospective Longevity: A New Vision of Population Aging

2019

Strengthening air quality in China

The Chinese Government officially adopts an IIASA model to strengthen air quality management in the country.

Strengthening air quality in China

2019

Toward a low-carbon economy in Indonesia.

IIASA contributes to a ground breaking report by the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning showing how the country could gain tremendous economic benefits by transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

Toward a low-carbon economy in Indonesia
2020

2021

Bouncing Forward Sustainably: Pathways to a post-COVID World.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IIASA partners with the International Science Council to bring together hundreds of experts to use systems thinking to identify how best to rebuild a world that is more resilient, sustainable, and just.

Bouncing Forward Sustainably: Pathways to a post-COVID World

2021

IIASA research informs the post-2020 Biodiversity Framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

IIASA research is taken up in the development of the post-2020 Biodiversity Framework under the Convention on Biodiversity as well as feeding into numerous global assessments and global reports on biodiversity.

IIASA research informs the post-2020 Biodiversity Framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity

Subscribe

Keep up to date with our latest news, events, and other IIASA activities. Sign up.

Activities supported by

Back To Top