Transformative change, one decision at a time
Our policy narratives tell the stories of how we have engaged to ‘make a difference’ and to transform the best available evidence about some of the world’s biggest challenges into better decisions and, ultimately, solutions. The difference between what is, and what could be, has motivated all of us to have our voices heard. We have spoken behind ‘closed doors’, in key advisory roles, in the public arena and in whatever ways open to us to, literally, change the world.
Sometimes we really did make the world a better place. There were also times when people or organisations with a vested interest in ‘business as usual’, and despite our best efforts, steered decisions to favour themselves contrary to the public good. These less-than-successful stories are the inspiration for us to do better, and to work differently.
Our past successes and failures have proven to us that there is only so much each of us can achieve working alone. We know that by working together, and that by pooling our common understanding and efforts, we can do so much more collectively than we can individually. It is this common vision and willingness to work together, and with a common purpose, that underlies what we do and who we are.
We are the not first to argue for a paradigm shift in how we make decisions and respond to the key risks that the world faces. What makes us different and unique is that:
(1) we combine world-leading, independent scientists and economists working together from multiple places, but with a global perspective;
(2) we focus on the critical sustainability challenges of our age in terms of food, water, energy, soils and biosecurity;
(3) we recognise that better decision making and improved security require a risk focus, and also actions that make the world more resilient;
(4) we share an overarching vision that the best available evidence must be used to create solutions and feasible pathways, and not simply to document or diagnose problems; and, most importantly,
(5) we feel compelled to speak ‘truth to power’, and will do so even when this might be personally costly.
Each of our policy narratives tells an important, individual story of how we have used ‘science’ to try to make a difference. What is missing from a one-by-one reading of our stories, and also in the world at large, is an awareness of the systemic risks that stem from poor decision-making and the unexpected. Silo thinking by many of the word’s ‘best and brightest’ failed to foresee the Great Recession of 2008-09 or the food price crisis of 2007-08 that pushed tens of millions into hunger. Importantly, an inability to look beyond the obvious and to consider the unexpected were key contributors to the policy failures that caused these global crises.
In an increasingly complex and globalised world very few decision makers see, let alone understand, the connections between a drought in Russia, people revolutions in the Middle-East and a tidal wave of refugees in Europe. Our understanding of the unforeseen consequences of ‘business as usual’ convinces us that nothing less than a fundamental change in how many policy decisions are made, and how the world responds to risks, is urgently needed. This is the collective challenge of humanity, and it is why we have come together to help make the world a better place, one decision at a time.