Co-organized by IIASA, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Austrian Academy of Sciences, this hybrid event marks the Austrian launch of the Human Development Report 2021-2022 "Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World" and features flash talks and a podium discussion focusing on human agency as a foundation for sustainable human development.

Despite multiple scientific warnings about human impacts on ecosystems, decades of insufficient action have heightened the risk of irreversible tipping points in the Earth systems. Our current decision-making systems are geared to propel unequal economic growth, concentrated wealth accumulation, and unsustainable consumption. Moreover, insufficient progress on fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been further undermined by the COVID-19 pandemic, while geopolitical tensions and conflicts are derailing prospects for global cooperation on global challenges. Although technological progress continues to enhance our (creative and destructive) capabilities, there is a mismatch between current challenges and the response from institutions and behaviors.

It is becoming evident that technology alone along with existing institutional arrangements cannot respond and bring about the sufficient degree of change. Scaling up the transformation of our society to sustainability requires a coordinated action of key actors. At the heart of the challenge is that current socio-economic-environmental systems facilitate skewed distribution of power and constrain agency of many actors. This event will focus on the topic of agency, that is the ability of individuals and groups to take action and make a difference over a course of events, which is a foundation for sustainable human development. The program includes a keynote presentation by the Director of the UNDP Human Development Report Pedro Conceicao featuring the Human Development Report 2021-2022 Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World, followed by a panel discussion. 

The event is organized as part of IIASA Transformations within Reach (TwR) project which looks for ways to transform societal decision-making systems and processes to facilitate transformation to sustainability.


Event Moderator: Elena Rovenskaya, Advancing Systems Analysis Program Director, IIASA

9:30 (CET) Registration and welcome tea/coffee

10:00-10:15 Opening remarks

  • Albert van Jaarsveld, Director General, IIASA
  • Peter Huber, Director General, Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria
  • Christian Koeberl, Professor, University of Vienna; IIASA Council member for Austria

10:15-10:45 Keynote presentation followed by Q&A

  • Pedro Conceicao, Director, Human Development Report Office, UNDP

10:45-10:55 Flash talks

  • Anja Appel, Director, Co-ordination Office of the Austrian Bishops‘ Conference for International Development and Mission
  • Elina Brutschin, Research Scholar, Transformative Institutional and Social Solutions Research Group, Energy, Climate, and Environment Program, IIASA
  • Johannes Jaeger, Project Leader, JTF Project "Pushing the Boundaries", Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna

10:55-12:00 Panel discussion

  • Pedro Conceicao, Director, Human Development Report Office, UNDP
  • Keywan Riahi, Energy, Climate, and Environment Program Director, IIASA
  • Cecilia Ugaz Estrada, Director, Gender Equity and Empowerment of Women Office, and Special Advisor, Directorate of Corporate Management and Operations, UNIDO
  • Verena Winiwarter, Full Member, Division of Humanities and the Social Sciences, Austrian Academy of Sciences
22.02.23 IIASA-UNDP-OeAW Event



United Nations Development Program (UNDP) assists countries in identifying their ways to address development challenges and helps them strengthen their national and local capacities to accelerate progress to human development and the SDGs. Since 1990, Human Development Reports have been released exploring different themes pertinent to human development, which has had extensive influence on development debate worldwide.

For the last 50 years, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) has been addressing itself to the global challenges arising from technological development through a systems approach. Identifying policy options to reduce human footprints, enhance the resilience of natural and socioeconomic systems, and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is the core objective of the Institute within its decadal strategy 2021-2030. IIASA has 23 national and regional member organizations. In the host country Austria, this is the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW).

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