The societal challenges facing the world are substantial. Two major aspects, the connectivity across subject domains and globalisation, are putting demands on decision makers for which the available tools provide insufficient guidance. Humankind has reached a situation where existing policy instruments are clearly unable to provide sustainable outcomes on a global scale. The challenges laid down by an increasingly integrated market economy, by climate change and other environmental threats, food security, or energy sufficiency are today all global in nature. Here ‘global’ means that the challenges are multi-dimensional and borderless. Consequently they can no longer be handled by one given country, by one aspect of policy.
We require a new way of thinking. There is a need for a new science which takes into account connections across national borders, and across policy areas such as economy, transport, health and social understanding of system risk. The multidimensionality of global problems – the interconnectedness of decisions across different policy sectors – should be reflected in a multidisciplinary system approach.