Global Governance Institute


UCL Grand Challenges & UCL Environment Domain Grant Award

4 March 2021

The funded project will explore the vital importance of “Complex Risk Governance for a Green and Sustainable Recovery from COVID-19.”

Light bulb on green grass

GGI Deputy Director Dr Tom Pegram (with GGI Researcher Julia Kreienkamp) and Dr Carina Fearnley (UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies) have been awarded funding from UCL Grand Challenges and the UCL Environment Domain for a project that will explore pathways towards a green recovery from COVID-19 that are informed by complexity thinking. It is one of three projects at UCL that focus on the need for an environmentally sustainable recovery from the pandemic. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a reminder that human health and well-being is closely tied to the health of the planet. The environment is a major underlying determinant of health, growing in significance as climate change and ecosystem degradation intensify various health risks, including those associated with novel infectious diseases and more frequent extreme weather events. COVID-19 has also demonstrated the fragility of our economic systems and crisis response structures, highlighting the threats that systemic disruptions pose to our interconnected world. A ‘business-as-usual’ post-COVID economic recovery strategy would greatly amplify these threats.

The funded project is grounded in the proposition that complexity thinking – sensitive to the dynamic behaviour of complex human and natural systems – is key to realising a green recovery from COVID-19 and achieving greater levels of preparedness for future shocks and emergencies. It will involve a range of activities and outputs, including a workshop that will serve to launch an interdisciplinary research network and develop actionable policy proposals on how to address complexity in the context of a green post-COVID recovery. All project outcomes will be made available on the GGI website.