Interconnected risks require interconnected solutions, meaning that interventions must be able to address the multifaceted and complex nature of the problem.
To avoid risk, we will need to integrate actions across sectors in unprecedented ways. We therefore propose a new framework to classify and discuss the effectiveness of solutions that can help us address risk. Broadly, solutions fall into two main categories: Avoid solutions are those that target root causes and drivers of risk to avoid crossing risk tipping points altogether. Meanwhile, Adapt Solutions are those that help us to prepare or to better address the negative impacts of risk tipping points in case they cannot be avoided, and seek to adapt to the resulting changes in an attempt to live with them. Within each category, there are two options for actions: Delay actions work within the existing “business as usual” system and seek to slow down the progression towards risk tipping points or possible worst impacts. Transform actions involve a fundamental reimagining of the system itself.
The resulting framework has four categories:
Understanding which of the four categories a solution falls into helps to assess what kind of outcomes it can produce and which trade-offs it may have.
Furthermore, we identified a suite of solutions to address different elements of the problems that emerging and existing risks bring to the surface. All solutions were consolidated into larger conceptual categories, each representing a more general idea of how to approach solutions that are applicable across different contexts.
Although promising solutions exist in each solution category, they should ideally be used in combination with solutions from other categories to overcome implementation barriers and achieve the best outcome. Additionally, if we want to change our trajectory away from a future of multiplying and cascading risks, we must move towards transforming our systems altogether for them to become more sustainable.