Joseph Lewis
8 February 2023

New report: Risk evaluation & systems thinking

forest with overlaid text "Entering the FOREST of risk: a framework option for risk evaluation & systems thinking - read the report"

Following the work of its working group on risk and systems thinking, the IES has now published its latest report on environmental policy: 'Entering the FOREST of risk: a framework option for risk evaluation & systems thinking'.

Risk is an issue which faces all aspects of Government and policy. The publication of toolkits on systems thinking and the recent confirmation of the implementation of Environmental Principles across Government by the end of 2023 have highlighted the importance of a systems approach to risk evaluation.

Attempting to evaluate risks or opportunities involving complex natural systems can feel overwhelming, as navigating in one direction may lead to rapidly expanding considerations and consequences. Much like in a dark forest, we can quickly find ourselves lost if we do not have an effective guide. While systems thinking approaches may be able to support that endeavour, there have historically been insufficient tools to engage a systems thinking mind-set when evaluating risks specifically. 

To help navigate through the dark forest that represents the complex considerations we need to manage in order to evaluate risks and opportunities from a systems perspective, the Framework provides a series of questions and sub-questions to facilitate that journey. As not all policy makers will start or end in the same places, the questions are designed to work in whichever order needed, with the potential to support evaluations either holistically or individually.

Find out more about taking a systems approach to evaluating risk.