Systems analysis used to be the preserve of government and the military. It has since spread to many sectors, but it was IIASA and its partners in the early 1970s that steered it into the domain of humanenvironment interactions, incubated the research community, built a body of scientific literature, and developed the science. The IIASA Advanced Systems Analysis Program, which uses exploratory applied mathematics to develop new computer models, has enabled it to stay at the leading edge of systems thinking.
IIASA is structured to reflect the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary way of thinking and researching. Advanced systems analysis is a problem-solving process in which many people participate: scientists, stakeholders, and decision makers. These are not just problems per se, but problems with all their attendant concepts and factors. Stakeholder input is key to successful advanced systems analysis, as are the practicability of solutions and evaluations of possible impacts. It can achieve the often delicate balance that satisfies multiple stakeholders.
Over the coming decades, urbanization, global infrastructure expansion, and increases in consumption will require vast capital investments, locking in patterns of demand and supply for decades to come, with profound implications for climate change and the environment. It is increasingly recognized that decisions at the smallest spatial and time scales aggregate to shape global, long-term trajectories. Yet sustainability challenges are often focused on improving “fast” variables, such as crop yield and water quality, without recognition of slower, underlying dynamics, such as the supporting ecosystem services.
IIASA is currently working with the Santa Fe Institute in the USA to develop a mature, predictive science of sustainability, robustly grounded in complex systems theory, to guide the exploitation of earth’s resources toward a more sustainable operating space for people and the planet.
Last edited: 13 November 2020
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313