Professor Mark Swilling, Co-Director of the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition (CST) and Dr Rika Preiser, Senior Researcher in Complexity Theory, in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, will continue their engagement with prominent scientists and other eminent global thought leaders from around the world following their acceptance as full members of the renowned international think-tank, the Club of Rome (CoR).

The CoR was created in 1968 to unite an international network of leading thinkers from various disciplines who share a concern for the future of humanity. It is the first truly global think tank, encompassing views from academia, business, government and civil society. Members are required to contribute to critical international projects, such as climate change and planetary emergency initiatives, reclaiming and reframing economics and the role of the youth. Total membership is limited to 100, which means selection to this body is indeed significant recognition of the international research profile of Swilling and Preiser. Renowned South African Dr. Mamphela Ramphele is the Co-Chair of the Club of Rome marking the first time an African has occupied this position in the CoR.

CST welcomed the inclusion of Swilling and Preiser as members of the CoR by formally stating the following: “The CoR has steadfastly stood for a transition to a sustainable world. The scientists and activists associated with the CoR have been some of the most well-respected and influential voices in the world since its founding in 1968. It is recognition of CST’s international standing that two of its leading researchers have been invited to be part of this prestigious scientific think tank.”

In commenting on his invitation to join the CoR, Swilling said: “My recent book The Age of Sustainability: Just Transitions in a Complex World captures an African perspective on the coming transition to a more sustainable and equitable world that is envisaged by the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN in 2015. I look forward to engaging with the CoR about the core ideas of my new book.”

By highlighting the need to foster new ways of thinking, Preiser will draw on her experience of applying complex systems thinking to inform alternative frameworks for understanding how change and transformation can be re-conceptualised to address the interconnected nature of the current challenges of our time.

This is not the CST’s first collaboration with CoR. Prof Swilling has attended various CoR meetings, and worked with many of its leading thinkers via various international bodies. Furthermore, the CST is associated with many other global initiatives that share CoR’s vision, including UNESCO, the International Society for Systems Sciences, the International Resource Panel, the Program on Ecosystem Change and Society, the World Academy of Arts and Sciences and various others. CST will continue to build the global collaborations.