IIASA Hosts Major Infrastructure Symposium

Bridges vol. 42, December 2014 / IIASA

By: Kathryn Platzer, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)          

The second International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure (ISNGI) imagined resilient infrastructure systems that can meet the needs of twice today’s world population with half of today’s resources – at the same time providing greater livability. Speakers at the symposium, held in Laxenburg September 30-October 1, 2014, emphasized that the future of infrastructure systems (transport, energy, water, waste, telecommunications, housing, social infrastructure, and green infrastructure) will be determined by two major “new” issues: (i) new technologies, which will reshape physical networks and services; and (ii) new institutions, involving a multitude of decision makers, such as public policy makers, private investors, planners, operators, and users, who will decide whether and how to adopt new technologies and services. Delegates emphasized the importance of understanding how the physical network interacts with decision making in the multi-actor network, and how the former might be influenced by institutional changes. Many of the interdependencies and interconnections that collectively make up the physical, economic, and social systems of cities and regions are incompletely known, said symposium participants. The symposium recognized that sophisticated analytical techniques and tools would be required to enhance the resilience of infrastructure, particularly given the mounting effects of global change: Infrastructure has already proven vulnerable to extremes of climate change, weather, and other factors.

One keynote speaker was Peter Bakker, president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and a member of the new high-level Alpbach-Laxenburg Group. Bakker discussed how the scientific and business communities can work together better to improve their ability to achieve common goals. He stressed the importance of scientific research in setting the priorities for sustainable development, and of business for taking action.

During the lecture, which can be viewed online, Bakker announced that the WBCSD, along with IIASA and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, will organize a series of roundtables to identify the business and technological solutions to climate change and the potential barriers such solutions will confront.

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an independent scientific institute that studies problems that are too large or too complex to be solved by a single country or academic discipline. IIASA is based in Austria and its international research covers broad areas of energy and climate, food and water, and poverty and equity. IIASA is located in Austria near Vienna and is sponsored by its National Member Organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. To view the original article, click here.