Options Magazine, Winter 2021: A systems look at how our decisions are driving global change.

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, comes at a critical time for humanity and is an unprecedented opportunity for the world to come together to address the threat to our continued existence on this planet that is climate change. This special edition of Options highlights the work of IIASA researchers on the subject.

Our cover feature takes a systems look at humanity’s role in the climate crisis. We are both the cause and victims of climate change, and it therefore stands to reason that we should also be part of the solution. Our second feature explains the role of scenarios in exploring climate change and its impacts, and how these stories of future Earth could help to reveal how we might prevent global tragedy. While systems analysis is uniquely suited to address complex global issues like climate change, it is difficult to pin down. In this issue, you can read all about how the flexible, shapeshifting nature of this discipline is actually also its superpower. 

Magazine articles

02 December 2021

Interview: Advancing equitable transitions to net zero

Options Winter 2021: Caroline Zimm joined IIASA in 2014 and is leading the IIASA Strategic Initiative Program’s Just Transitions to Net-zero Carbon Emissions for All (JustTrans4ALL) project.
Environment society and economics written on blue puzzle jigsaw with shadow on yellow background

02 December 2021

Where are they now: Jessica Jewell

Options Winter 2021: Jessica Jewell was a 2010 YSSP participant and researcher at IIASA between 2011 and 2019. She continues to support the work of the institute as a guest researcher.

30 November 2021

People profiles: Thinking about policies for just transitions

Options Winter 2021: Kian Mintz-Woo participated in the IIASA Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP) in 2018 and is currently a guest researcher in the Equity and Justice Research Group of the Population and Just Societies Program. He is also a permanent lecturer at University College Cork in Ireland.
Silhouettes of heads of people made of paper. Social justice concept.

30 November 2021

People profiles: Achieving sustainable development with better data

Options Winter 2021: Dilek Fraisl researches how citizen science can provide data needed to monitor progress on the UN Sustainable Goals (SDGs).
citizen science illustration

30 November 2021

Interview: Developing and connecting the next generation of researchers

Options Winter 2021: Q&A with Roula Inglesi-Lotz, Professor of Economics at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and member of the Global Young Academy (GYA). IIASA collaborates with the GYA to develop, connect, and mobilize young research talent from around the world. The GYA gives young scientists a voice in the global scientific community and empowers them to make evidence-based and inclusive decisions, and lead international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational collaboration.
GYA banner with a group picture of participants

30 November 2021

Opinion: Shedding light on systemic risks from infrastructure failure

Options Winter 2021: Jim Hall, Chair of the IIASA Science Advisory Committee, writes about how new data sets, systems analysis, and machine learning can help pinpoint hotspots of vulnerability and target measures to enhance resilience to future threats from climate change.
infrastructure systemic risk concept

29 November 2021

Supporting sustainable reindeer management in Finland

Options Winter 2021: The integrity of traditional reindeer husbandry in Finland is under threat. In a study that analyzed the perceptions of herders on the drivers of change in reindeer management, IIASA researcher Mia Landauer and colleagues hoped to amplify local voices so they can be included in future policy decisions.
Reindeer herd in finland

29 November 2021

An analysis of forest management in the Republic of Korea

Options Winter 2021: While urbanization is a common cause of biodiversity decline, the Republic of Korea has managed to maintain its biodiversity during its rapid economic development. IIASA researcher Florian Kraxner and colleagues analyzed the persistence of plants in the country and constructed future scenarios to better prepare for the pressures of climate change.
Cityscape of Seoul

29 November 2021

Using energy demand reduction for decarbonization in Japan

Options Winter 2021: In an attempt to reduce its carbon footprint, Japan has put ambitious strategies in place to reduce energy demand. IIASA researcher Shinichiro Fujimori and his colleagues used modeling to explore potential energy system changes and their cost implications.
Crowd of people in Tokyo

29 November 2021

The pursuit of wind power expansion in Brazil

Options Winter 2021: Renewable energies such as wind power will be increasingly important for a net-zero future. IIASA participated in a study that looked at the impacts of wind power expansion in Brazil and explored possibilities to reduce the environmental risks.
Windfarm in Brazil in the sunset

29 November 2021

Assessing the cost of a herd immunity approach to COVID-19 in the USA

Options Winter 2021: The herd immunity approach was initially considered as a management option for the COVID-19 pandemic. IIASA researchers looked at what the cost of inaction would have been in the USA.
blurry crowd of people on the street wearing masks

29 November 2021

Tackling solid waste management in Kenya

Options Winter 2021: Lack of proper waste management poses a threat to both the environment and human health. To alleviate the problem, IIASA researchers analyzed how waste management interventions such as turning waste into biofuel and a ban on open burning would impact air pollution, COemissions, and health in Kisumu county, Kenya.
Kibera slum dump field in Kenya

29 November 2021

Improving fertilizer and water management practices in South Africa

Options Winter 2021: Water scarcity and rising fertilizer prices are causing complications for sustainable agriculture in South Africa. IIASA researchers have validated and calibrated models to help address the issue. 
Workers on a field in South Africa

17 November 2021

People at the heart of climate change

Options Winter 2021: Human activity is the main cause of climate change. It is also people who endure the worst of its impacts. It is a matter of utmost urgency that people are part of the solution.
abstract watercolor painting of a hand touching the globe

17 November 2021

Plotting the future

Options Winter 2021: Scenarios are essential for exploring climate change. These stories of future Earth help to reveal how we might prevent global tragedy.
abstract image of globe

16 November 2021

What is systems analysis?

Options Winter 2021: The concept of systems analysis is difficult to pin down, but in fact, the flexible, shapeshifting nature of this discipline turns out to be its superpower.
Systems analysis concept, complicated figure

15 November 2021

The future of the river is in your hands

Options Winter 2021: IIASA research highlights role-playing simulation games as a promising approach to engage stakeholder of sustainable development across sectors in systems thinking and societal understanding of environmental challenges.
The future of the river is in your hands title with human hands around it