Systemic Thinking for Policy Making

The Potential of Systems Analysis for Addressing Global Policy Challenges in the 21st Century

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We live in a period of profound systemic change, and as in similar periods in the past, there is bound to be considerable instability and uncertainty before the new society and economy take shape. We have to identify actions that will shape change for the better, and help to build resilience to the inevitable shocks inherent in, and generated by, the complex system of systems constituted by the economy, society and the environment. These challenges require updating the way policies are devised and implemented, and developing more realistic tools and techniques to design those policies on the basis of appropriate data. In Systemic Thinking for Policy Making world experts from the OECD and International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) pool their expertise and experience to propose new approaches to analysing the interconnected trends and issues shaping today’s and tomorrow’s world. The authors argue that to tackle planetary emergencies linked to the environment, the economy and socio-political systems, we have to understand their systemic properties, such as tipping points, interconnectedness and resilience. They give the reader a precise introduction to the tools and techniques needed to do so, and offer hope that we can overcome the challenges the world is facing.



The Potential of Integrated Education and Population Policies

It is argued that connecting education with ageing and inter-cohort changes can generate knowledge to guide research and policy. Emphasis on early childhood cognitive development is key. Better-educated individuals are not only more productive, but also tend to have better health and stronger social networks. Lifelong participation in formal and informal education will keep populations healthier, more physically and cognitively active, and more connected to society. A systems approach is a valid tool to analyse education within the continuum of the life cycle to understand the interrelationships with other components such as health and labour force participation, as well as to identify alternative strategies and foresee their impact. IIASA’s multistate population and education modelling can inform the OECD’s strategic and policy-oriented mission. This will be important in poorer countries where education, particularly of girls and women, is a key instrument to reduce poverty and improve gender equality.


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