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.


Comparing Transformational Climate Policies with Agent-Based Modeling

Steven Popper, Rob Lempert,and Raffaele Vardavas

Santa Monica, CA

October 19, 2015

Current climate policy literature provides little guidance on how today's policy choices can successfully shape long-term emission reduction paths. To address such questions, this paper introduces a new agent-based, game theoretic model designed to compare how near-term choices regarding alternative policy architectures influence long-term emission reduction trajectories.

Drawing on political science literature that identifies the characteristics of policies that persist over time, this simulation for the first time integrates the co-evolution of an industry sector, its technology base, and the shifting political coalitions that influence the future stringency of the government's emission reduction policies—all as influenced by the initial choice of policy architecture.

An exploratory modeling analysis finds that near-term choices regarding the architecture of a carbon pricing policy may affect long-term decarbonization rates significantly. In particular, such rates are higher if program revenues are returned to firms in proportion to their market share, thus, creating a political constituency for continuing the carbon pricing policy. More generally, the analysis provides a framework for considering how near-term policy choices can affect long-term emission transformation pathways within integrated assessment models.


Energy in India: Overarching Discussions and Initial Thoughts on an RDM Approach

Gaurav Kapoor, Ph.D., Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy, Bangalore, India

Santa Monica, CA

December 12, 2014

India is facing a huge energy crunch: Not only is (electrical) energy essential for its growing economy, India also plans to boost spending on infrastructure, social services, and other forms of development.

However, with the energy sector plagued by chronic shortages and distribution challenges, the economic engine can be derailed if concrete steps to tackle this problem are not taken immediately. In addition, India lacks the capability to pay for ever-growing imports of conventional energy sources such as coal or crude oil that currently dominate the energy mix.

In this presentation, Dr. Kapoor described the energy challenge that India is facing and his initial work in applying an RDM approach to solving the problem. He explained that any solution developed must be sustainable: In other words, be able to accommodate disruptive technologies (such as an exploding demand for electric vehicles), a shortage of raw materials (coal, oil, nuclear fuel), and climate change (high variability in renewable source availability).

Ho Chi Minh City Flood Control Strategy: RDM and Beyond

Ho Long Phi, Director, Center for Water Management and Climate Change, Viet Nam National University, Ho Chi Minh City

Santa Monica, CA

December 11, 2014

Ho Long Phi laid out three strategic options for tide control in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), one of the most vulnerable cities in the world facing the impact of climate change.

Tide control has been considered one of the most effective measures to protect HCMC against combined effects of sea level rise, upstream flood, and land subsidence in the context of population growth in low-land areas. The three options were presented using RDM to analyze benefit/cost performance under certainties of climatic and non-climatic variables.

System Dynamics Approach for Managing Flood Risk in Bangkok

Wijitbusaba (Ann) Marome, Assistant Professor, Urban Environmental Planning and Development, Thammasat University, Thailand

Santa Monica, CA

December 11, 2014

Dr. Marome takes an urban development planning approach to the understanding of climate change adaptation and urban resilience.

She brought her expertise as a researcher and team leader for Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR), an international research project, as well as her knowledge from authoring the First Thailand Assessment Report on Climate Change, to this riveting talk on managing flood risk in Bangkok.

Workshop on Robust Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty: South Florida Water Management District

Robert J. Lempert, Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition

September 5, 2014

Robert J. Lempert, director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, led a workshop for the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to introduce RDM approaches and discuss how they might be applied to water management and climate adaptation policies in the region.

The day long workshop included a panel discussion led by representatives of SFWMD, U.S. Department of Interior, Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and the cities of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

The Importance of Addressing Parametric Uncertainty: A Case Study of Flood Risk in Coastal Louisiana

David R. Johnson, Associate Mathematician at the RAND Corporation

Santa Monica, CA

July 18, 2014

Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the state of Louisiana has undergone a massive change in their approach to managing flood risk.

The state's 2012 Comprehensive master Plan for a Sustainable Coast endorses flood risk reduction as one of the primary keys to the state's future. Developed in support of this plan, RAND's Coastal Louisiana Risk Assessment model (CLARA) was used to evaluate flood risk under a wide range of uncertain future scenarios and with many combinations of risk reduction and coastal restoration projects in place.

In this talk, Johnson discussed the integrated approach that has been incorporated into CLARA and will be used in Louisiana's 2017 Coastal Master Plan. This approach includes measuring parametric uncertainty within a scenario using bootstrapping, Monte Carlo simulation, Markov chain analysis, and other techniques. The audience provided feedback on these methods and results.

Climate Change Mitigation Costs: A Tale of Uncertainties, Metrics, and Misleading Baselines

Céline Guivarch, researcher in energy and environmental economics at Ecole des Ponts ParisTech, CIRED (International Research Center on Environment and Development)

Santa Monica, CA

June 20, 2014

The cost of meeting a given climate change mitigation target (e.g., the goal adopted in climate negotiations to limit climate change to two degrees above pre-industrial levels) stimulates passionate discussion in both academic and public arenas.

Cost estimates reported by the IPCC Working Group III are measured by GDP losses or consumption losses in a mitigation scenario against a baseline. Another often-reported metric is the carbon price.

The work presented by Guivarch—through an Integrated Assessment Model that represents the intertwined evolution of technical systems, energy demand behaviors, and economic growth—suggests that, in order to maximize GDP while meeting a given mitigation target, the most important levers are energy demand behaviors and end-use energy efficiency. Yet, the importance of those levers does not stand out if the focus is on GDP losses against a baseline.

The presentation also incuded a brief introduction to "IQ SCENE," Innovative techniques for Quantitative SCenarios in ENergy and Environmental research program), by Evalina Trutnevyte, a research associate in the fields of energy strategy and energy systems modeling at the UCL Energy Institute.

Application of Robust Decision Making: Patuxent River Case Study

Jordan Fischbach, Codirector of the RAND Water and Climate Resilience Center, and Edmundo Molina-Perez, Ph.D. candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School

Santa Monica, CA

June 18, 2014

Fischbach and Molina-Pereze discussed using robust decision making (RDM) to address best management practices (BMP) for water pollution and water quality management in the face of climate change and other relevant uncertainties on the Patuxent River, a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay located in eastern Maryland.

Concerns specific to the Patuxent watershed include its highly urbanized surroundings, rapidly growing surrounding populations, the contribution of stormwater contaminants from the Patuxent, and more.

Informing Climate Risk Management Strategy Decision Tools Using the Mental Models Approach

Laura (Fleishman) Mayer, Associate Policy Researcher at the RAND Corporation

Pittsburgh, PA

May 30, 2014

As we plan for future climate change scenarios, how should the tradeoffs among climate management strategies (i.e., mitigation, adaptation, and geoengineering) be considered?

Mayer led a discussion on the mental models (or, how one thinks about a topic) surrounding this question for eleven subject-matter experts in fields ranging from climate science to uncertainty quantification to ethical and epistemic analysis.

Demonstration of a Smart Market for Water

John "Fritz" Raffensperger, Senior Operations Researcher at the RAND Corporation

April 28, 2014

Santa Monica, CA

Over the past 15 years, researchers have developed and studied a mechanism called a "smart market" to manage surface and ground water, nitrate and phosphorous runoff, and flood impacts.

A smart market for water follows the design of the hugely successful modern markets for electricity, transportation, and natural gas, in which an independent system operator manages a multilateral auction cleared by optimizations.

In this presentation, Raffensperger presented a smart market for water. The audience had the opportunity to "play" this market, and see the winners, the losers, and the resulting outcome for the environment.

Engaging Policymakers with Serious Games

Nidhi Kalra, Director, RAND Center for Decision Making Under Uncertainty

Santa Monica, CA

March 13, 2014

Policy analysts largely use briefings and reports to motivate and inform policymakers. Unfortunately, these unidirectional methods can fall short of fully reaching our audiences intellectually and emotionally. Serious games offer a compelling opportunity to embed a learning goal in the dynamics of game play.

In this event, facilitated by Nidhi Kalra, a diverse mix of RAND staff and PRGS students to played the game, "Decisions for the Decade," and experienced first-hand how games can help us more fully engage our clients and launch projects. Following the game was a discussion about how this game and others like it can be adapted to meet RAND's needs, including an effort to "re-skin" the game for use in sectors such as defense, health, transportation, and energy.

Uncertainty and Decision in Climate Change Economics

Geoffrey Heal, Professor, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University

Santa Monica, CA

February 3, 2014

Uncertainty is intrinsic to climate change: We know that the climate is changing, but not how fast or in precisely what ways. Nor do we understand fully the social and economic consequences of these changes, or the options that will be available for reducing climate change.

Furthermore, the uncertainty about these issues is not readily quantified and expressed in probabilistic terms: We are facing deep uncertainty or ambiguity rather than risk in the classical sense, rendering the classical expected utility framework of limited value.

In this presentation with Geoffrey Heal, Donald C. Waite III Professor of Social Enterprise at Columbia business School, we review the sources of uncertainty about all aspects of climate change and resolve these into various components, commenting on their relative importance. Then we review the decision-making frameworks that are appropriate given the absence of quantitative probabilistic information, including both non-probabilistic approaches and those based on multiple priors.


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.