Synergistic Dynamics of Complex Socio-Natural Systems

This page summarises, in plain language, the outline of the report giving rise to the Flagship on Synergistic Dynamics of Complex Socio-Natural Systems, and is its DOI landing page. The corresponding bibliographic citation is:

Perdigão, R.A.P. (2019): Synergistic Dynamics of Complex Socio-Natural Systems.

International Research Program at the Interdisciplinary Interface among Frontier Natural, Social and Technical Sciences

Global Team, Multi-Local Insights

The International Research Program “Synergistic Dynamics of Complex Coevolutionary Systems”, with reference MR-010319, was launched in 2019 for a first round of five years, with option for renewal in successive 5-year cycles.

The founding chair, Prof. Dr. Rui Perdigão, steers the program and coordinates a growing team of world-class individualities from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania. The program partners range from academic researchers to public and private practitioners, fostering a coevolutionary cross-fertilisation between academia and society.

Global in reach, multi-local in touch, the initiative further benefits from the strong ties to the emerging NORA Research Alliance, chaired by Prof. Dr. Rui Perdigão and Prof. Dr. Julia Hall from our Institute.

The readers will quickly realise that several of the challenges are closely dear to them, as they are dear to us. However, in our program we do not limit ourselves to brainstorming, debating and producing white papers or guidelines. We develop formal rigorous methodologies to tackle the issues in practice. Beneath our dreams, beneath our words, we do the fundamental maths and act on the terrain where the challenges are most direly felt. And both novel mathematical paradigms and actual actions empower us to acquire fundamental understanding, go beyond wishful thinking and actually make things happen.

Theoretical and Methodological Projects

  • Advances in the mathematical formulation and systematization of coevolutionary system dynamic structures representing complex natural, technical and social phenomena along with their interplay in a fully articulated spatiotemporal manner;
  • Furthering the fundamental dynamic understanding of the emergence of regimes, transitions and extremes, along with the associated evolutionary uncertainty and predictability;
  • Development of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence techniques for interdisciplinary analytics and model design beyond mechanistic paradigms.
  • Mathematical methods for multiscale multidomain information acquisition, modelling and framework design for dynamic decision support;

Tackling Complex Socio-Environmental Problems

  • Geophysical dynamics in a changing climate, from global to meso and local scales;
  • Diagnosing, Prognosticating and Communicating climate change impacts onto socio-economic fabric, stresses, challenges and opportunities;
  • Building system dynamic decision support frameworks for strengthening agricultural and fishery practices, food security and sovereignty, in a changing climate;
  • Developing dynamic information frameworks for scientific literacy and communication.
  • Improving dynamic decision support frameworks pertaining natural, social and technical hazards.

Recent International Scientific Publications (updated in 2020)

  • Perdigão R.A.P., Pires C.A.L., Hall J. (2019): Disentangling Nonlinear Spatiotemporal Controls on Precipitation: Dynamical Source Analysis and Predictability
  • Perdigão R.A.P. (2019): Complex System Dynamics.
  • Perdigão R.A.P. (2020): Synergistic Dynamic Causation and Prediction in Coevolutionary Spacetimes.
  • Perdigão R.A.P., Ehret U., Knuth K.H. & Wang, J. (2020) Debates: Does information theory provide a new paradigm for Earth science? Emerging concepts and pathways of information physics. Water Resources Research, 56(2), 1-13.
  • Perdigão R.A.P., Schwemmlein K. (2020): Socio-Environmental Food Systems Under Anthropogenic Climate Change: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus Perspective.
  • Perdigão R.A.P.; Hall J.; Schwemmlein, K. (2020): Polyadic Dynamic Nexus among Complex Socio-Environmental Systems: from Earth System Dynamics to Sustainable Development.
  • Schwemmlein K., Perdigão R.A.P. (2020): Triadic Nexus Among Agriculture, Climate Change, and Poverty. In: Leal Filho W., Azul A.M., Brandli L., Lange Salvia A., Özuyar P.G., Wall T. (eds) No Poverty. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Springer, Cham.


From Global to Local: Empowering Societies With Frontier Science

From Knowledge Transfer to Coevolutionary Cross-Fertilisation

Foster cross-fertilisation between theoretical, methodological and practical aspects in a coevolutionary manner, wherein rather than a top-down deployment of novel methodologies onto the terrain of action, the latter feeds back onto the former with local insights from those directly involved in the actual system dynamics. This entails knowledge transfer and interaction empowering individuals, strengthening communities, linking systemic holistic dynamics with individual functional in the system dynamics.

Socio-Environmental Coevolution in a Changing Climate

Characterisation, analysis and modelling impacts of climate change onto the transforming typology, frequency and intensity of hydro-meteorological and other environmental extreme events with impacts onto ecosystems, agricultural, fishery and extractive practices, and in social and gender issues, along with the feedback between the socio-economic fabric and the climate dynamics and impacts onto the regions.

From a Full Circle to an Upward Learning Spiral

Feeding the fundamental insights from our local partners into the novel complex system dynamic methodologies, coevolving the system structure towards shaping effective decision support frameworks to protect local societies and the environment, turning the hardships of climate change into opportunities to enact a more constructive societal change to improve lives, not on a top-down manner, but rather through empowerment of those more vulnerable so that they can actually have an informed choice on how to best decide how to shape their lives.

Topical projects implementing the agenda of the aforementioned initiative include:

Strengthening Coevolutionary Socio-Environmental Resilience in Insular Worlds

  • Atlantic Macaronesian Archipelagos;
  • Atlantic Caribbean Archipelagos;
  • South Pacific Archipelagos;
  • South-East Asian Archipelagos.

Seeding Socio-Environmental Oasis in Urban Systems

  • Megalopolis: from Tokyo to São Paulo, from Beijing to New York;
  • European Capitals: seeding green living in historical cities;
  • Local towns across five continents: where urban meets rural;
  • Renaturalising communities and settlements across Africa.

Enhancing Socio-Environmental Sustainability in Agro-Ecological Systems

  • Transcending the Food-Water-Energy Nexus with Complex System Dynamics;
  • Enhancing system dynamics from classical holistic integral approaches to multi domain; solutions benefitting not only the overall system but also all players across scales;
  • Turning climate change impacts into opportunities to redesign agro-ecologic systems.

Empowering Society through Education, Scientific and Ethical Literacy

  • Empowering Citizens by Nurturing Scientific and Ethical Literacy;
  • Empowering School Systems with Synergistic Dynamics;
  • Empowering Information and Communication with Fundamental Science.