This post, jointly written with John Mitchell of ALNAP, reflects on the emerging challenges faced by the international humanitarian sector, and the need for systemic changes. This piece is also published on the ALNAP blog, and the discussion paper on which this is based can be downloaded here. CAR, Syria, Iraq and South Sudan, Gaza, Ebola… […]

In this guest cross-post, Geoffrey West, former President of the Santa Fe Institute, argues that just as the industrial age produced the laws of thermodynamics, we need universal laws of complexity to solve intractable problems of the post-industrial era, and that ‘big data’ needs such ‘big theory’. For more on this topic, see David Hales’ guest […]

Many of the grand challenges that confront humanity—problems as diverse as climate change, the stability of markets, the availability of energy and resources, poverty and conflict—often seem to entail impenetrable webs of cause and effect.But these problems are not necessarily impenetrable. Powerful new tools have given scientists a better understanding of complexity. Instead of looking […]

This is a guest post by Frauke de Weijer (pictured), policy and fragile states specialist at the excellent ECDPM think tank.  In a previous post on this blog, Ben explored the potential of complex systems research for thinking about statebuilding and fragility. In this guest post, I would like to take this discussion one step […]

Fragile states are growing in importance on the development and humanitarian  agenda. One of the most concrete outcomes of last years aid summit in Busan was the New Deal for fragile states. Most major donors are looking to increase their presence and effort in fragile states, and implementing agencies are having to work out what […]

A continuing theme on this blog has been the issue of leadership. Many reports and studies call for it, reforms are seen as impossible without it, critical challenges will not be met without it, and we are all ready to point out the lack of it (in others, at least). Despite the fact that leadership […]