Knowledge Systems for Sustainability
Knowledge Systems for Sustainability (KSS) is a global research alliance that builds and tests knowledge systems for sustainability to better manage complex risks related to food, energy, water, climate, and human security.
Current trends undermine food, energy, and water security in many regions of the world, which could trigger cascading global risks to all nations and communities. Interacting underlying causes such as globalization and technology, climate change, population growth, persistent poverty, and poor trans-boundary resource governance, together contribute to social unrest, large-scale migration, and the advance of ideological extremism.
The global science community has largely failed to respond to these challenges and has not yet developed implementable solutions capable of meeting humanity's resource demands within the Earth's long-term system limits.
KSS brings together mutually committed research organizations and a global community of practice organized around regions, programs or themes, societal priorities, and technical capabilities. KSS seeks to deliver practical fit-for-purpose solutions that respect humanity's requirements for equity, agency, and privacy, and better promote human security and global sustainability.
To learn more, read the KSS fact sheet.
KSS Focal Challenges
KSS work is arranged around two major themes:
- Promote food-energy-water security and social stability, supported by sustainable provisioning systems, by addressing system risks and major stressors over multiple scales and timeframes.
- Accelerate low carbon development and climate resilience, through systems modeling and systems solutions to simultaneously address both human and environmental development.
The KSS Change Model
Partnering with key decision makers across sectors and boundaries, whose decisions have large impacts, and who make their decisions based on objective criteria and fit-for-purpose information from the science and technical community.
Bringing clarity from existing knowledge, building on the best available science and information, and distilling this to enable well-informed decisions and risk management.
Designing and delivering transformative responses, through networked high-leverage interactions with global and national organizations, communities, and the private sector.
KSS Founding Partners and Capacities
KSS is a collaboration of leading mission-inspired research organizations. This collaboration creates a one-stop-shop for our partners and key decision makers, supporting relationships with change agents who require—and can leverage—a better understanding of systemic risks and management options.
The founding partner organizations are:
- CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization)
- CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center)
- IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis)
- NREL (the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
KSS Program Areas
E-biss (Evidence-based intervention support system) – Designing Anticipatory Interventions: The program intends to identify the benefit of preparing for an uncertain but likely disaster, in part by valuing risk avoided, closing the climate-poverty gap, and building a learning relationship with humanitarian networks.
Food System Risk: Multiple Breadbasket Failure: In collaboration with actuaries, reinsurance, government, private sector and others, this broad reaching initiative seeks to identify plausible risk scenarios in the food system, then value and avoid global to local risks to humanitarian, economic, political, and human security dimensions.
Nexus Outlook Scenarios: Outlook scenarios explore possible futures scenarios to identify global drivers of impacts, tradeoffs and pathways that are economically and environmentally robust.
JISEA is an operating agent of KSS. If you’re interested in working with KSS, please contact us.