Polycrisis Project

Humanity faces an array of grave, long-term challenges, now often labeled “global systemic risks.” They include climate change, biodiversity loss, pandemics, widening economic inequalities, financial system instability, ideological extremism, pernicious social impacts of digitalization, mounting social and political unrest, large-scale forced migrations, and an escalating danger of nuclear war. Compared to humanity’s situation even two decades ago, most of these risks appear to be increasing in severity and at a faster rate, while the crises they generate seem to be occurring more often simultaneously.

These systemic risks are converging into a “global polycrisis” with its own emergent dynamics. But the community of people dedicated to understanding, mitigating, and governing the polycrisis remains fragmented. The study of the polycrisis is a nascent field that lacks shared concepts, a clear research agenda, and practical strategies for turning knowledge into action. Communication between community members is still sparse, with little accumulation of research and practice. Discussion is also substantially focused on how the polycrisis might cause societal collapse, even though the polycrisis could also create possibilities for positive outcomes. The relative neglect of these positive possibilities arises partly because we don’t adequately understand how today’s multiple crises are linked, and especially how their rising severity is synchronizing.