Press release

ASRA Celebrates One Year Anniversary and Official Launch

11 April 2024 - The Accelerator for Systemic Risk Assessment (ASRA) celebrates its one-year anniversary and announces its official launch with eminent new appointments to its Steering Committee and the release of a practical, principles-based guide to navigating risk in a polycrisis world. ASRA mobilizes a global, transdisciplinary network of 50+ risk practitioners and thought-leaders to radically rethink risk as a way to address current and future challenges. 

Faced with multiplying, interconnected risks—from emerging technologies, such as AI, to pandemics, climate change, and geopolitical conflict—systemic risk assessment must be used as the backbone of policy and decision-making about the future. Taking a multidimensional approach to understanding and responding to risk amid polycrisis offers decision-makers an urgent, practical, and ethical pathway to better-informed, more effective, and time-sensitive actions. As research by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction warns that hard-won sustainable development gains are being reversed by the growing number of disasters—with global warming the prime contributor—action must be taken to address systemic risk for a healthy and safe future for all.  

“Everything and everyone is exposed to the impacts of the polycrisis. From that global understanding comes not just the potential for global collaboration to take action on the risk drivers involved, but the absolute necessity for it,” said Ruth Richardson, Executive Director, ASRA. “One year into its journey, I’m thrilled to see momentum gathering around ASRA through the enhancement of our governance structures, expansion of our team and membership, and innovative research and prototyping also in development.”

New Steering Committee Members 

New Steering Committee members bring a wealth of diverse experience and expertise to ASRA, with specialties in conflict management, climate tipping points, cross-border cooperation, and how science is used in the governance of environmental issues. The new appointees are: 

  • Ayan Mahamoud, Senior Programme Coordinator, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Kenya
  • Michael Lesnick, Senior Fellow, Meridian Institute, USA
  • Professor Tim Lenton, Chair in Climate Change and Earth System Science, University of Exeter, UK
  • Zora Kovacic, Ramón y Cajal Fellow, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain

Lesnick will be the inaugural chair of the Steering Committee. They join Lou Munden, Founder of TMP Systems, and Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, and will collaborate with ASRA’s leadership to deliver on its strategic priorities. 

“As complex crises and risks intensify, the value of a catalytic initiative like ASRA has only become clearer. We are proud to host this crucial network as a contribution to better decision-making about our greatest collective challenges,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the UN Foundation. “I look forward to working with these new members of the Accelerator’s Steering Committee to advance ASRA’s critical work and mission.”

Principles for Systemic Risk Assessment and Response Published 

Network members have co-developed a set of Principles for Systemic Risk Assessment and Response to shape and guide ASRA’s transformative work. ASRA is making this guide available to other risk practitioners and decision-makers today, advocating that principles—such as those that uphold commitments to universal responsibility, compassion, and complexity, amongst others—can act as a powerful diagnostic tool to identify where a current practice or approach to risk analysis falls short and, crucially, how it should be improved. Download the guide here

In just over a year, ASRA has drawn members from 26 countries worldwide; grown its core team; designed, developed, and onboarded 25+ next generation practitioners to the first-of-its kind global training program on systemic risk; initiated a participatory scenario modelling exercise to imagine a post-polycrisis world; and, is preparing to publish a significant research study examining the capacities and capabilities needed to catalyze action on systemic risk to coincide with UN Summit of the Future that will be held in New York in September 2024.  

ASRA is an initiative hosted by the United Nations Foundation.

- Ends 


Ayan Mahamoud, Senior Programme Coordinator, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) "ASRA's dedication to aiding leaders and practitioners in understanding, assessing, and integrating sensitivity to systemic risks into their decision-making processes is of paramount importance in today's interconnected world. I’m excited to join the Steering Committee to support ASRA to embrace this challenge, make a contribution to the imperative social and ecological transformation required to confront these risks, and enhance our collective ability to anticipate, evaluate, and address intricate risks that impact our global society."

Michael Lesnick, Senior Fellow, Meridian Institute: “Public and private decision-makers are looking for practical tools they can use to effectively anticipate and respond to the increasingly dynamic risks we all face today. There’s no doubt that action must be taken to address threats facing both human and natural systems -- upon which society depends -- so I’m delighted to join ASRA’s Steering Committee and help advance this important agenda.”

Professor Tim Lenton, Chair in Climate Change and Earth System Science, University of Exeter: I am excited that ASRA is stepping up to improve assessment of systemic risks and our responses to them. Together we can get a better grasp on how tipping points could cascade from the climate through ecosystem to damage societies.”

Zora Kovacic, Ramón y Cajal Fellow, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya:I’m excited to join ASRA as it strives to develop a better understanding of systemic risk and does so by upholding important values such as compassion, plurality and mutual responsibility. To me, leading with heart and mind has never been more important.

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