Cooperation and Transformative Governance (CAT) aims to analyze governance systems addressing sustainability at different scales and to generate cooperative solutions.

Societal transitions caused by unprecedented technological innovations and industrial transformations, such as energy transitions or digitalisation, as well as environmental or health related crises require new effective governance approaches to handle inherent social dilemmas and wicked problems.

Transformative governance includes formal and informal institutions which are involved - at multiple scales - in responding to, managing, and triggering positive shifts in coupled social-ecological systems towards sustainability. A growing complexity of decision-making processes in modern society requires improved synchronization and coordination of different branches and levels of governance. Transformative governance faces two major challenges. First, the underlying difficulty of any transformative governance process is a social dilemma, that is a collective action situation when interests of separate individuals contradict interests of a community or society. Second, transformative governance involves with wicked problems – problems that are difficult or impossible to solve as they are characterized by incomplete information and contradicting and constantly evolving views and objectives of involved stakeholders and social groups. 

Th CAT group focus is on wicked problems and social dilemmas in decision-making advancing appropriate methodologies and conducting a series of case studies. Areas of application include:

  1. Public health including COVID-19;
  2. Climate change and natural hazards,
  3. Biodiversity and ecosystems, including oceans;
  4. Societal transitions caused by technological innovations, industrial transformations or environmental changes; and
  5. Digital world and misinformation spread in the Internet. 

The CAT group is using the following methods:

  • cooperation models, including game-theoretical models for public good and common pool management with real-world complexities as well as bounded rationality, social heterogeneity, cultural dispositions, and institutional incentives;
  • decision support systems accounting for multiple conflicting objectives; and
  • methods to facilitate stakeholder dialogue, including participatory modelling, systems mapping, gamification, scenario planning. 

The overarching methodological ambition of CAT’s work is to advance the practice of using models to understand and support decision making processes that are characterized by uncertainty, volatility, ambiguity and complexity. 

CAT has a unique composition of researchers from a wide area range of disciplines that are fundamental for addressing its goals. The Research Group includes researchers from political sciences, mathematics, game theorists, behavioural economists, among others. The unique combination of deep disciplinary knowledge, a broad understanding of the practical challenges of transformative governance, and rigorous mathematical and systems-analytical focus is a strong basis for innovative work of high societal relevance. Extended networks of several young and senior scientists enables delivering real-world impact by addressing contested governance problems.

Models, tools, datasets


Qualitative systems analysis tools to inform strategic planning for policymaking (QSAM)


Integrated Risk and Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis


Amazing agriculture landscape in Macin mountains

The Food, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Land, and Energy (FABLE) Consortium

Paper plane

Agent-based models to inform economic policies on migration (ABM2Policy)


Taher Zobeidi profile picture

Taher Zobeidi

Guest Research Assistant (CAT)

Leena Ilmola-Sheppard profile picture

Leena Ilmola-Sheppard

Guest Emeritus Research Scholar (CAT)

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Oleksandr Bogdanov

Guest Research Assistant (CAT)

Dmitry Erokhin profile picture

Dmitry Erokhin

Research Scholar (CAT)


Climate Change and Social Media Cover

27 June 2024

What can social media tell us about public views on climate change?

IIASA researchers contributed to a new study, analyzing the main narratives in public discussions of climate change on social media.
Bulb future technology with Brain, innovation background, Artificial Intelligence Concept

26 June 2024

Digital – the key to unlocking environmental challenges

Unlock the potential of digital artificial intelligence to address pressing environmental challenges! Traditional approaches to conservation are evolving as AI tools enable precise monitoring, predictive analytics, and optimized resource management. From combating climate change to preserving biodiversity, AI offers scalable solutions that benefit ecosystems and communities alike. Explore how AI is reshaping environmental stewardship for a sustainable future.
Solar panels

26 June 2024

Application of science, technology and innovation solutions to increase participation in climate change adaptation. A case study by IIASA researchers

Nadejda Komendantova, the Cooperation and Transformative Governance Research Group leader, and Dmitry Erokhin, a researcher at IIASA, prepared a case study on the application of science, technology and innovation solutions to increase participation in climate change adaptation. In this case study, they discuss best-practice solutions as well as their internal and external validity. The case study served as an input to the 9th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals held on May 9-10, 2024, at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York.


27 June 2024

Social media to unravel human sentiments

Social media can be a critical source of data to help explore the formation and evolution of public opinion. IIASA researchers are at the forefront of  exploring this field, leveraging platforms such as X (formerly Twitter) and Google combined with advanced statistics and machine learning to offer insights into the collective psyche of society.
social media

20 February 2024

Unearthing the gold: the art and science of social intelligence mining

In the era of digital communication, myriads of social media and web platforms can be used as vital sources of data, which can help us explore the patterns of how public opinion and reactions are shaped, how new trends emerge, and how the market dynamics work. Being at the forefront of exploring this promising field, IIASA researchers Hossein Hassani and Nadejda Komendantova explain what social intelligence mining is and how can it be used for our collective benefit.