Tag Archives: SEI

Information and communication technologies in the Anthropocene

UPDATED: Slides from the talks at the end of this blogpost

The use of social media for political mobilization during the political uprisings in Northern Africa and the Middle East during 2010 and 2011; digital coordination of climate skeptic networks during “Climategate” in 2010; and the repercussions of hackers in carbon markets the last years. These are all examples of intriguing phenomena that take place at the interface between rapid information technological change, and the emergence of globally spanning virtual networks.

Exactly how information and communication technologies affect the behavior of actors at multiple scales, is of course widely debated. The question is: how do we make sense of these changes, from a wider resilience perspective?

Some of these discussions took place at the 2011 Resilience conference in Arizona in a panel convened by us at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and with generous support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Canada). Ola Tjornbo from Social Innovation Generation (SIG) at the University of Waterloo, explored some of the opportunites, but also profound challenges, related in trying to design effective virtual deliberation processes. Ola noted that while several success stories related to crowd-sourcing (Wikipedia) and collective intelligence (e.g. Polymath) do exist, we have surprisingly little systematic knowledge of how to design digital decision-making processes that help overcome conflicts of interest related to issues of sustainability. Some if these issues are elaborated by SiG, and you can find videos from an interesting panel on “Open Source Democracy” here.

Richard Taylor from SEI-Oxford presented a rapidly evolving platform for integration and dissemination of knowledge on climate adaptation – weADAPT. This platform combines the strengths of a growing community of climate adaptation experts, a database of ongoing local climate adaptation projects, semantic web technologies, and a Google Earth interface. The visualizations are stunning, and provide and interesting example of how ICTs can be used for scientific communication.

Angelica Ospina from the Centre of Development Informatics at the University of Manchester, showcased some ongoing work on mobile technologies and climate adaptation resilience. As Ospina noted, ICTs can provide some very tangible support for various features of resilience, ranging from self-organization, to learning and flexibility. You can find a working paper  by Angelica here.

To summarize: three very different yet complementary perspectives on how ICTs could be harnessed in the Anthropocene: by building new types of virtually supported decision making and collective intelligence processes; linking expert communities and local natural resource management experimentation together; and by exploring the resilience building strengths of decentralized mobile technologies.

Slides from the talks

Victor Galaz (intro)

Ola Tjornbo

Richard Taylor

Controversies around the Social Cost of Carbon

What is the social cost of carbon? That is,the monetary value of the long-term damages done by greenhouse gas emissions? Frank Ackerman from the Stockholm Environment Institute U.S. Center, recently gave a fascinating talk at the Stockholm Resilience Centre where he presented the widely used FUND-model, an integrated assessment model of climate change that links climate change science with economics. According to Ackerman, the interesting aspect with this model is not only that it is commonly cited by policy-makers in the US, but also that some of its basic assumptions, lead to quite bizarre results. The policy implications can not be overestimated.

As Ackerman notes in the TripleCrisis blog:

True or false: Risks of a climate catastrophe can be ignored, even as temperatures rise? The economic impact of climate change is no greater than the increased cost of air conditioning in a warmer future? The ideal temperature for agriculture could be 17oC above historical levels?

All true, according to the increasingly popular FUND model of climate economics. It is one of three models used by the federal government’s Interagency Working Group to estimate the “social cost of carbon” – that is, the monetary value of the long-term damages done by greenhouse gas emissions. According to FUND, as used by the Working Group, the social cost of carbon is a mere $6 per ton of CO2. That translates into $0.06 per gallon of gasoline. Do you believe that a tax of $0.06 per gallon at the gas pump (and equivalent taxes on other fossil fuels) would solve the climate problem and pay for all future climate damages?

I didn’t believe it, either. But the FUND model is growing in acceptance as a standard for evaluation of climate economics. To explain the model’s apparent dismissal of potential harm, I undertook a study of the inner workings of FUND (with the help of an expert in the relevant software language) for E3 Network. Having looked under the hood, I’d say the model needs to be towed back to the shop for a major overhaul.

A working paper that teases the critique in detail can be found here. To summarize the conclusions for non-economists: the social cost of carbon is way higher than $6 per ton of CO2….

Job: Executive Director, Stockholm Environment Institute

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), which is one of the partners in the Stockholm Resilience Centre, is looking for a new Executive Director to replace its outgoing head Johan Röckstom.  Their job ad states:

Are you interested in leading a global organization seeking solutions to today’s and tomorrow’s sustainable development challenges? We are now looking for a new Executive Director to lead the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). Recently ranked as the 10th most influential environmental think-tank in the world, SEI is a world leading research institute with the mission to induce change towards sustainable development around the world by bridging science and policy in the field of environment and development.

SEI pursues its inter-disciplinary research, capacity development, outreach and policy support, across areas and scales ranging from global climate change policy to farm development in Africa. SEI is heavily engaged in global scientific assessments, and global policy processes on environment and development, such as the 2012 UN Earth Summit (Rio+20). SEI is proud of its highly qualified and dedicated staff, including 180 colleagues in 7 globally distributed research centres.

We invite candidates with a distinguished reputation in research on environment and development, who have broad understanding and engagement in global challenges of sustainable development. You are a leader, both in developing an institute and in providing intellectual direction, with the ability and dedication to raise an internationally recognized institute to an even higher level of accomplishment. You have extensive international experience and a strong management record.

This is a full-time position located at the SEI Headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. The appointment is made by the SEI Board for four years, with possible continuation for a further four years.


– a broad grasp of the principal global challenges of sustainable development and their relation to policy development over the coming decades;

– an ability to provide intellectual vision for the Institute’s work and to lead and develop staff into new research directions and policy domains;

– a distinguished reputation in research in the field of environment and development, particularly their systemic aspects;

– an extensive network of colleagues and contacts in the sustainable development field;

– a broad and diverse international experience, especially with developing countries;

– a willingness to travel widely to promote and extend the institute’s research programme and enhance its funding base and impact on global problems;

– management and organizational development experience;

– experience of strategic fund-raising;

– fluency in both spoken and written English.

SEI looking for deputy director

Stockholm Environment Insitute (SEI) is looking for someone to fill a combined leadership position as Centre Director for the Stockholm Centre and Deputy Director Operations Stockholm Environment Institute.  SEI is one of the partners of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, so there is the potential for this person to do a lot of resilience research.  The application is due May 19th.

The job ad is below:

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) is an international research institute founded in 1989 by the Swedish Government on integrated research and knowledge generation for policy and decision support on sustainable development. It has research centres in Stockholm, Boston, York, Oxford, Tallinn, Bangkok and Dar-es-Salaam with about 180 staff. A significant part of SEI’s work is carried out in developing countries and the Institute applies an active diversity policy and operates in a global multicultural environment. The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) invites applications for a full-time combined position as Centre Director for the Stockholm Centre and Deputy Director Operations for the Institute. The position is located at the SEI Headquarters in Stockholm.

Features and responsibilities of the position as
The Centre Director is responsible for the operations of the SEI Stockholm Centre, by providing strategic and intellectual leadership, carrying out and supporting fund raising, and ensuring the long-term operational and financial viability of the Stockholm Centre including general administration, management and development of Centre staff.

Works as a Senior Research Fellow who formulates, develops, leads, manages and implements one or more externally funded research programmes/projects.

Features and responsibilities of the position as The Deputy Director for operations:

  • Supports the ED on operational issues across the SEI organisation, related to institutional and centre developments and management related tasks
  • Supports the ED in strategic fund raising and external representation
  • Serves on the SEI Executive Team and as such is part of the overall leadership of the Institute.

In an international organization with six research centers around the world, the position requires an experienced and dedicated individual with passion for sustainable development and strong cross-cultural communication skills.