While we embrace the complexity of science (to understand the challenges facing us), we strive to distill and integrate key insights in a simple and relevant way (to support decision-making). We hope that this edition provides a few new perspectives that move you to action.
The 22nd edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer provided sobering views on the “cycle of distrust” fueled by government and media, while non-governmental organisations and business are pressured to take on societal problems beyond their abilities. In this context, the most trusted societal leaders appear to be the scientists.
It is increasingly widely accepted that scientific knowledge is critical for public understanding and sound policy for most of today’s critical issues - from human health to climate action to food security. More than ever, the researchers who make up the WTW Research Network are eager to understand how their work interacts with the real economy and how they can lend their expertise to a more resilient future for all.
Our established portfolio of research across the full spectrum of risks (natural hazards, people and technology, emerging risks, organizational resilience) continues to grow. It mirrors our evolving vision of current and future risks, our emphasis on organizational resilience to complement the traditional risk view, and the growing importance of ESG and sustainability. These themes have also been central to the WTW Thinking Ahead Institute , which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.
To inject new perspectives into our research portfolio, the WTW Research Network once again invited its members (and potential new partners) to submit short collaborative research projects via our Challenge Fund program. It’s a chance to experiment with new ideas and methods to address topics that may be underrepresented in our portfolio. In 2023 our new themes are: relationships with technology, and the influence of climate change on human health and wider societal impacts.
The choice of our research topics gives an idea of our concern about the current state of the world: all aspects of climate change (not just acute physical risks, but also relentless chronic risks; not just physical risks but also climate liability risks and climate change’s impact on water and food security); the grayzone between war and peace (which challenges corporate geopolitical neutrality); trust in technology; vulnerabilities of supply chains.
Wordsworth connected ‘man’ to Nature through poetry. Now, the language of modelling puts the environment into finance to steward the resilient, just, and low carbon transition. The WTW Research Network is at the heart of building this new compass with its partners and supporters. ”Rowan Douglas | CBE WTW Research Network Chairman
Despite these efforts, we are all too aware of the remaining knowledge – action gap, most visibly on the climate change action front, which is pushing leading scientists to civil disobedience, to get their voice heard. The words of Russian-American biochemist and science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov ring particularly true these days: “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
Our thanks to all our research partners for keeping the faith in the power of science and for their contribution this year, and to our enthusiastic WTW Research Network team and curious colleagues, without whom we could not bridge the knowledge – action gap. It is a privilege to work with so many talented people, and harness their innovation to support lives, livelihoods and assets in the volatile decade we are in.
|WTW Research Network Annual Review 2023: Science for Resilience