International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Coordinates: 48°04′06″N 16°21′29″E / 48.068272°N 16.358171°E / 48.068272; 16.358171
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International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Formation1972; 51 years ago (1972)
Coordinates48°04′06″N 16°21′29″E / 48.068272°N 16.358171°E / 48.068272; 16.358171
Region served
Official language
Parent organization
National Member Organizations (NMOs)

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an independent international research institute located in Laxenburg, near Vienna in Austria, founded as an East-West scientific cooperation initiative during the Cold War. Through its research programs and initiatives, the institute conducts policy-oriented interdisciplinary research into issues too large or complex to be solved by a single country or academic discipline. These include climate change, energy security, population aging, and sustainable development. The results of IIASA research and the expertise of its researchers are made available to policymakers worldwide to help them make informed and evidence-based policies.


IIASA has over 400 researchers from 52 countries that work in Laxenburg and an extensive network of collaborators, alumni, and visitors across the globe.

The institute is currently directed by Albert van Jaarsveld. Wolfgang Lutz is the current Interim Deputy Director General for Science.[1] Past directors have included Howard Raiffa, a professor at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, Roger Levien, former vice president for Strategy at Xerox, Leen Hordijk, former Director at the Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Joint Research Centre, European Commission, Ispra, Italy, and Detlof von Winterfeldt, professor at the University of Southern California.[2]

IIASA is a non-governmental institution funded by scientific organizations in its member countries, which currently include Austria, Brazil, China, Egypt, Finland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Malaysia (Observer), Mexico, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.[3] Funding for the institute also comes from contracts, grants, and donations from governments, international organizations, academia, business, and individuals.[4] Its research is independent and is not constrained by political or national self-interest of member countries.


IIASA was established by a charter signed on 4 October, 1972 by representatives of the Soviet Union, the United States, and ten other countries from the Eastern and Western blocs at The Royal Society in London.[5] It was the culmination of six years’ effort driven forward by both the US President Lyndon Johnson and the USSR Premier Alexei Kosygin. For IIASA it was the beginning of a project to use scientific cooperation to build bridges across the Cold War divide and to confront growing global problems on a truly international scale.[6] The first scientist arrived at IIASA in June 1973.[7]

IIASA built international multidisciplinary teams to confront innumerable global challenges both long-standing and emerging. For example, a study on water pollution carried out in the 1980s by a team of IIASA chemists, biologists, and economists still forms the basis of modern water policy design in Japan, USA, and the former USSR.[citation needed]

IIASA's approach of bringing together different nationalities and disciplines to work toward common goals has now been widely imitated, for example, in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme.

Instead of closing in the 1990s upon the end of the Cold War, the institute broadened its mandate from bridging East and West to a general global focus. Today, IIASA brings together a wide range of scientific skills to provide science-based insights into critical policy issues in international and national debates on global change.[8]

Current research[edit]

The IIASA mission is to provide scientific guidance to policymakers by finding solutions to global problems through applied systems analysis in order to improve human well-being and protect the environment.

In 2010, IIASA launched a strategic plan for the next ten years that focused on three general problem areas: Energy and Climate Change, Food and Water, and Poverty and Equity.[9]

There are currently nine IIASA research programs carrying out research into the dynamics of global change. These programs use holistic approaches and interdisciplinary collaborations to identify potential solutions needed to bring about a global transformation to true sustainability: Advanced Systems Analysis, Air Quality and Greenhouse Gases, Ecosystem Services and Management, Energy, Evolution and Ecology, Risk and Resilience, Transitions to New Technologies, Water, and World Population.[citation needed]

Major projects[edit]

Ten IIASA scientists were among the authors of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (the work of the IPCC, including the contributions of many scientists, was recognized by the joint award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize). IIASA researchers are major contributors to Working Groups II and III of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report[10] and are invited contributors to Working Groups I, II and III of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.[11]

The Greenhouse Gases – Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies (GAINS) model was launched in 2006 as an extension to the RAINS model which is used to assess cost-effective response strategies for combating air pollution, such as fine particles and ground-level ozone. The Chinese Government officially adopted GAINS in 2019 to strengthen air quality management in the country.[12]

The IIASA led Arctic Futures Initiative (AFI), in collaboration with the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs culminated in a report that considered how different Arctic actors define and address issues around the human dimension, governance, international cooperation, environmental protection, pollution, climate change, security, safety, economy, tourism, infrastructure, and science and education.

IIASA is a core member of the Food and Land Use (FOLU) Coalition that brings together stakeholders from academia and the public and private sectors to identify and advance solutions that deliver food security, healthy and affordable diets, halt biodiversity loss, restore and protect ecosystem services, and mitigate climate change and environmental pollution.

A partnership with the Global Environment Facility and the UN Industrial Development Organization, the Integrated Solutions for Water, Energy, and Land (ISWEL) project, developed tools and capacities for the cohesive management of water, energy, and land resources in the Indus and Zambezi basins.

Together with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), IIASA initiated the Food Agriculture Land Use Biodiversity and Energy (FABLE) Consortium as a knowledge platform. FABLE brings together research and policy teams from 20 developed and developing countries to advance analytical tools and model-aided decision support to analyze the ability of development pathways to meet national aspirations, while also collectively aligning with, among others, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement.

The IIASA Challenges and Opportunities for Economic Integration within a wider European and Eurasian Space project served as a platform where key stakeholders could engage in evidence-based dialogue. In 2018 the project published three reports containing analyses and recommendations in several important areas. The first report compared product standards and technical regulations in the region and revealed that the Eurasian Economic Union has already adopted international standards more fully than previously realized. The second report on foreign direct investment highlighted that capital flows between the European Union and Russia are declining. The third report looked at trans-Eurasian land transport corridors and argued that enhancing trade between Europe and Asia would require increased capacity, the removal of infrastructure bottlenecks, harmonization of regulatory environments, and enhanced associated investments.

Since 2010, IIASA is one of the three "pillar institutions" of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital.[13]

The IIASA's Global Energy Assessment was released in 2012. The report was a result of the collaborative and integrated work of over 500 authors, analysts and reviewers worldwide who contributed independent, scientifically based and policy-relevant analysis of current and emerging energy issues and options. The assessment provides an analysis of energy-related issues including sustainable development, poverty eradication, climate change mitigation, health, energy security, and energy access.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rindzevičiūtė, Eglė (15 November 2016). The power of systems: how policy sciences opened up the cold war world (PDF). Ithaca, New York, USA: Cornell University Press. doi:10.7591/cornell/9781501703188.001.0001. ISBN 978-1-5017-0318-8. Retrieved 13 June 2022. open access
  • Johansson, Thomas (2012). Global Energy Assessment (GEA. Cambridge Laxenburg, Austria: Cambridge University Press International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. ISBN 978-0-521-18293-5. OCLC 810924682.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Interim IIASA Deputy Director General for Science appointed". IIASA - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Retrieved 31 October 2022.
  2. ^ "Dr. Roger E. Levien" (PDF). VI Congreso Nacional Bibliotecas Publicas. 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  3. ^ "Full List of Members". IIASA. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  4. ^ IIASA Funding
  5. ^ Profile of IISA appended to summary of "Energy in a Finite World" (1981)
  6. ^ McDONALD, ALAN (1998). "Scientific Cooperation as a Bridge Across the Cold War Divide: The Case of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) 1". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Wiley. 866 (1): 55–83. Bibcode:1998NYASA.866...55M. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1998.tb09147.x. ISSN 0077-8923. PMID 12088010.
  7. ^ Jermen Gvishiani and Roger E. Lewis (1981). "Foreword". Energy in a Finite World.
  8. ^ "History of IIASA - History". IIASA. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Overview of research at IIASA - Research Overview". IIASA. Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  10. ^ "Climate Change 2013/2014: Fifth Assessment Report - 5th Assessment Report". IIASA (in Malay). Retrieved 4 December 2020.
  11. ^ "Climate Change 2021/2022: IPCC Sixth Assessment Report". IIASA. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  12. ^ "The GAINS Model". IIASA. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  13. ^ "Wittgenstein Centre 5-year Report". Wittgenstein Centre. Retrieved 4 December 2020.

External links[edit]