Pardee Center Speaker Series and Events

The RAND Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, as well as related RAND centers and programs, frequently host speakers and events related to futures methodologies, decisionmaking, and similar topics.

This page lists recent events and speakers; an archive of earlier events is also available.


Smart Markets for Water Resources

John F. Raffensperger, Senior Operations Researcher, RAND

Santa Monica, CA

May 16, 2013

Allocating and managing water resources remain some of the great problems of humanity.

Economists have long pressed for market approaches to allocating water resources. Intelligent policymakers responded with a simple question, "How?" Over the past 30 to 40 years, researchers have begun to develop answers, especially with the invention of "smart markets," which are auctions cleared by optimization.

This presentation describes recent work in "smart market" designs for ground water, surface water, and the combination, for runoff from sediment, nitrate, and phosphorus, and for impervious cover. These market designs are unusual in that they incorporate the hydrological physics, private values for the resources, and explicit detailed protection of the environment. Further, these new market designs promise to reduce the transaction costs associated with water resources management, while improving both the economy and the environment.

The markets for the different water resources operate differently, over different time horizons, and require different types of rights. These differences are due to the different physics of the resources, the different ways in which people interact with those resources, and the different types of constraints required to protect the environment. I will present a general framework for hydrological markets, discuss transaction costs, propose realistic institutional arrangements, and discuss the enormous change in mindset required.

Surfing the Sixth Wave: Exploring the Next 40 Years of Global Change

Professor Markku Wilenius and MA Sofi Kurki, Finland Futures Research Centre, Turku University, Finland

Santa Monica, CA

May 6, 2013

The project The 6th Wave and Systemic Innovations for Finland: Success Factors for Years 2010-2050 (6th WAVE) explores the Kondratieff long cycle theory (K-Wave for short) as a framework for anticipating the medium to long term future (2010-2050).

According to Kondratieff, economies follow the path of long-term dynamic cycles or waves. A long wave lasts for 40-60 years, and consists of a period of rapid economic growth, followed by stagnation or depression.

Previous research and a number of economic indicators lend support to the interpretation that, since the economic crisis of 2008, we now find ourselves in the last stages of the 5th wave, about to enter the 6th wave.

As our hypothesis, we hold that megatrends in the world economy, such as the permanently higher level of commodity prices as well as mounting environmental strains, are indicative of a new Kondratieff wave that is predominantly driven by efforts to improve resource efficiency. We believe resource productivity to be the key driver for technological, economic and social change. During the next wave, our economies will be driven by environmental technologies, biotechnology, nanotechnology and healthcare. Their effect will be leveraged by digitalization and the exponential rise of computational power — both legacies of the previous wave — that create circumstances for new products and services. A paradigm shift towards more efficient resource use is on the horizon, and its drivers are threefold: First, as many raw materials are becoming more rare, their price tends to increase. Second, in conditions of growing competition, the level of effectiveness at which raw materials and energy are used is becoming critical. Third, growing environmental awareness and legislation are putting pressure on companies to use less harmful substances in their production lines, and to serve their customers with less environmentally loaded products.

In our presentation we present the results of our research so far, and open the floor for discussion on the topic of prospects for the next Kondratieff wave.

Shell's Big Picture Scenarios

Dr. Cho-Oon Khong, Chief Political Analyst, Global Business Environment Team, Shell International

Santa Monica, CA

May 2, 2013

Shell's Global Business Environment team has been developing "big picture" global scenarios since the early 1970s, setting out alternative views of the future that the world might take.

These global scenarios aim to give business leaders a deeper understanding of the world in which they operate, and to help them make better business decisions. Shell's global scenarios have also gained a keen following among governments, academia and opinion shapers around the world.

In 2005, the Shell Global Scenarios explored the balances between market, state and society, and how they responded to crises. In 2008, Shell's Long Term Energy Scenarios explored the regulatory and technological underpinnings of the global energy system, how society and politics will shape that system, and what this means for future energy supply, demand and climate change.

Shell's New Lens Scenarios, just out, is Shell's next major set of "big picture" scenarios. They build on the 2008 Long Term Energy Scenarios, highlighting the prospect of intensified economic, political and social volatility. The New Lens Scenarios look at the "times of paradox" that we live in, the "era of volatile transitions" that we are moving into, and what this means for our long term global energy future.

Systems Science for Policy Support

Prof. Dr. Pavel Kabat, Director and Chief Executive Officer, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Santa Monica, CA

March 29, 2013

Narrowly focused, single-disciplinary science alone cannot adequately underpin policies and solutions to resolve major sustainability challenges.

We must rapidly refocus intellectual and economic investments toward multi-scale, integrated, interdisciplinary approaches that consider social, economic, and environmental aspects, that look across and between borders and sectors, and that identify feedbacks or the co-benefits of a policy or management decision, before it is made.

One example of this "systems" approach is the Global Energy Assessment (GEA), a multiyear, multidisciplinary study coordinated by IIASA. The GEA links energy to climate, air quality, human health and mortality, economic growth, urbanization, water, land use, and other factors. The GEA scenarios find that energy access for all by 2050 is possible with co-benefits of limiting warming to 2°C, improving air quality and human health, and stimulating economic growth within a green economy framework.

Realizing the sustainability goals of Rio+20 will require investment in integrated analyses to fully understand the Earth system (human and natural). This must be enabled by substantial growth in public-private partnerships that stimulate and fund collaboration between social and natural scientists and that engage key stakeholders in the user community at all stages of the research cycle—from inception to implementation.

The Network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRiM): An Overview

Klaus Keller, Penn State University

Pittsburgh, PA

February 12, 2013

RAND is a member of a new, NSF-funded research network for Sustainable Climate Risk Management (SCRiM), which aims to bring together fundamental, mission-oriented, and cross-disciplinary research to identify climate-risk management strategies and analyze how different sustainability criteria interact across a broad range of temporal and spatial scales.

SCRiM, one of two networks funded under NSF's new Sustainability Research Networks initiative, links a transdisciplinary team of scholars at 19 universities and five research institutions, including RAND, across six nations.

SCRiM initiatives will focus on identifying sustainable, scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically efficient, and ethically defensible climate-risk management strategies. Such strategies are expected to transcend the traditional boundaries between academic disciplines as well as between academia, industry, government, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, choosing such strategies will likely involve complex trade-offs and consideration of deep uncertainty where decisionmakers disagree about the appropriate problem framing, model structure, parameter values, and objectives.

In this talk, SCRiM Director Klaus Keller will provide an overview and give examples of projects that are part of this exciting new initiative.


A New Approach to Scenarios for the IPCC

Ms. Julie Rozenberg, Centre International pour l'Environnement et le Développement (CIRED), Paris, France

Santa Monica, CA

April 26, 2012

The scientific community is now developing a new set of scenarios, referred to as Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) to replace the IPCC SRES Scenarios, which have been used in numerous studies over the last decade.

To be used to investigate adaptation and mitigation, the new SSPs need to be contrasted along two axes: the capacity to mitigate, and the capacity to adapt. This talk described the current SSP process and proposed a methodology to develop these SSPs using a "backward" approach. The methodology is based on (i) an a priori identification of potential drivers of mitigation and adaptation capacity; (ii) a modelling exercise to transform these drivers into a large set of scenarios; (iii) an a posteriori selection of a few SSPs among these scenarios, such that they cover the uncertainty space in terms of capacity to adapt and mitigate.

Many-Objective Visual Analytics: Participatory Decision Support in Water Resources and Beyond

Dr. Patrick Reed, The Pennsylvania State University, with
Joe Kasprzyk, The Pennsylvania State University, 
and Shanthi Nataraj, RAND

Santa Monica, CA

February 10, 2012

In this talk, Dr. Patrick Reed presented an advanced visual analytical framework to aid decision makers in efficiently exploring and assessing complex, high dimensional Pareto approximate solution sets.

Beyond the framework's advanced decision support features, it also provides tools to visualize search dynamics and convergence in both serial and parallel computing contexts. He demonstrated the framework by showing examples drawn from space-time groundwater monitoring network design, surface water model calibration, and urban water portfolio planning applications.

Following Dr. Reed's presentation, Nataraj and Kasprzyk discussed a new interactive framework that combines robust decision making (RDM) with many objective optimization using evolutionary algorithms (MOEAs) to confront deep uncertainty for water planning on which they have been collaborating. The framework was demonstrated using a case study that examines a single city's water supply in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) in Texas, USA.


No Captain at the Helm: The Network Structure of Global Political Economy

Hilton L. Root, Professor of Public Policy, George Mason University

Washington, DC

December 2, 2011

One of the key questions to be asked in the context of growing global interconnectedness is whether the global system will be stable as parts of the system are altered.

How will system-level properties be affected by the changes taking place in what was once the periphery, in China, the Middle East, and the second world in general? The behavior of China or of Islamic nations mattered little when they operated in relative isolation from the larger system, but in a truly interdependent system, divergent components can alter the behavior of the system as a whole.

The North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program: Overview of Climate Change Results

Linda O. Mearns, Director, Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences
, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

Santa Monica, CA

November 11, 2011

The North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) is an international program that is serving the climate scenario needs of the United States, Canada, and northern Mexico.

We are systematically investigating the uncertainties in regional scale projections of future climate and producing high resolution climate change scenarios using multiple regional climate models (RCMs) and multiple global model responses by nesting the RCMs within atmosphere ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) forced with a medium-high emissions scenario, over a domain covering the conterminous US, northern Mexico, and most of Canada. In this overview talk, results from the various climate change experiments for various subregions, along with measures of uncertainty, were presented.

Global Water Leadership: New Partnerships for Innovation and Sustainability

Mr. Tim Brick, Board Member And Former Chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Santa Monica, CA

July 27, 2011

What is the future for water management in Southern California?

This talk addressed the current challenges for water managers in Southern California, and highlighted the issues that decision makers will face in the near- and longer-term future. Tim Brick argued that Southern California has the potential to be a global leader in the development of cutting edge technologies and approaches to water management for countries around the world.

Decision-Scaling and Robust Adaptation in Large Water Resource Systems

Dr. Casey Brown, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Santa Monica, CA

May 23, 2011

The projected impacts of climate change have extraordinary implications for many water resource systems.

There is increasing recognition of the importance of robust responses to these challenges. But there is lack of an accepted framework for incorporating climate information, with its inherent uncertainties and limitations, into the decision making and policy processes of most institutions. We describe a decision analysis framework––called decision scaling––for the use of uncertain climate information for planning in water resources systems. The approach is applied for climate risk assessment and for the design of robust adaptation.