OECD and IIASA have cooperated on topics of mutual interest for many years. At a meeting in Paris on 24th May 2017, Prof. Dr. Pavel Kabat, then Director General of IIASA and Mr Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of OECD, agreed to establish a Strategic Partnership for co-operative activities between the two organisations. In December 2017, they signed a Memorandum of Understanding “to tighten the links between science and analysis on the one hand with policy and action on the other to better address global challenges through the development of systems approaches.” The Memorandum indicated a number of domains where the two organisations would co-operate, including:

  • Developing new approaches to economic challenges to enhance understanding of the complexity of the global economy, society and environment.

  • A systems approach to the analysis of economic performance and exploration of how far systems thinking could be taken in understanding the evolution of a national economy.

  • Analysis of risk and resilience, and the recognition of uncertainty in the management of complexity.

  • International co-operation in science, technology and innovation to advance knowledge and address grand challenges.

  • Investigation of connections between climate, energy and international finance

The Strategic Partnership between OECD and IIASA can help Member States, institutions, and other actors to understand the complexity of the issues we face and manage rising levels of risk and vulnerability under conditions of uncertainty. It can provide a focus and intellectual leadership for the evolution of the new ideas and approaches so urgently required to improve the prospects for inclusive, stable, and sustainable progress and peace.

Within the OECD, responsibility for implementing the Partnership falls to the New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) Unit, overseen by Gabriela Ramos, Chief of Staff and G20 Sherpa. Within IIASA, the co-ordinator is Jan Marco Müller, Acting Chief Operations Officer. The Memorandum of Understanding provided for the establishment of the OECD-IIASA Task Force on Systems Thinking, Anticipation and Resilience, which “shall identify and coordinate areas of work of mutual benefit.” Both OECD and IIASA have designated senior expert members for the Task Force, chaired by Martin Lees.

This publication summarises joint work by members of IIASA and OECD on how systems thinking can improve policymaking. It focuses on four main areas of mutual interest, presented in chapters co-authored by officials from both organisations: new economic paradigms, approaches and methodologies; the environment and sustainable development; social and economic change; and systemic risk and resilience. William Hynes, Head of the OECD New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) Unit and Jan Marco Müller co-ordinated the publication. Angela Stuart (OECD) and Patrick Love (OECD) provided editorial and technical assistance.

The OECD and IIASA would like to thank Sweden’s innovation agency, Vinnova, for its support for this project.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.


The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at