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Cascading Climate Impacts Policy Simulation at COP26

Strategic Simulation

1 November 2021-12 November 2021


Interactive simulation sessions at COP26

Centre for Systems Solutions organizes interactive policy simulation with a focus on cascading climate impacts, their effects on the critical minerals extraction and supply chains, and ultimately the consequences on climate mitigation, biodiversity, and health. Compared to written or oral forms of communication (such as articles or presentations), policy simulations combine challenge, immersion, emotions, and learning-by-doing in a safe environment. Participants will be able to explore the real-world stories and research that inspired the simulated events. The simulation is relevant and interesting for a broad group of participants from policy makers to researchers, to students. It will be available in the following formats:

The Cascading Climate Impacts Policy Simulation was created as part of the “CASCADES – Cascading climate risks: Towards adaptive and resilient European Societies” project, which was funded through the EU Horizon 2020 programme.


Innovative Climate Communication

We are living in a world of unprecedented global challenges, and each and every one of us has stakes in the future. Behind the most recent crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic – other, more perilous emergencies loom on the horizon: climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, among others. Despite anticipating them, we, as stakeholders of the Earth, are unable to craft a consistent, coordinated and united response.

There are several reasons for this. First, the challenges of a sustainability transition are intricately complex, even our best attempts often fail or lead to unintended consequences. As a result, despite  development of increasingly accurate models, there remains an inherent uncertainty in future scenarios, especially when applied long-term. To make matters worse, individual judgements are warped by different interpretations of reality, personal values, and worldviews – leading to a widespread ambiguity over the appropriate diagnoses and solutions. Consequently, we not only fail to see the big picture and the interconnections between its elements but also are unable to initiate the necessary collaboration between different fractions of polarized society. 

We need to find a new approach to navigate complexity, and to communicate climate emergency effectively in spite of existing ambiguities. This new approach needs to bring together scientists, policy makers, and society and go beyond current practice relying mostly on one-way transmission from experts. 

Policy Simulations to Bridge Science and Policy

Policy simulations aim to bridge the gap between science and science users, and to create an environment for navigating complexity in a meaningful way. They build on the experiential learning approach guiding participants through phases that are both active and experiential as well as reflexive and conceptual. They are well suited for addressing complexity-related challenges, because they integrate both problem-oriented (technical, physical, economic) and people-oriented (relational, social, psychological, ethical) complexities. Complex problems are recreated in a simplified way through participants’ interactions and decisions that trigger responses generated by the underlying simulation model. Participants adopt roles and interact with people of different backgrounds and values. They learn not only how to set collective goals and collaborate to achieve them, but also how to empathize with others, see their perspectives, and negotiate consensus.

The Cascading Climate Impacts Policy Simulation – The Storyline

With the rise of clean energy technologies, the demand for certain “green” minerals is increasing. Energy production currently uses 50% more minerals than 10 years ago. The trend is expected to continue. Depending on the pace of the energy transition, the current demand for minerals may quadruple by 2040, if the goals of the Paris Agreement are to be met. More ambitious climate policies may cause the demand to grow dramatically. The success of ambitious policies and of the transition towards a clean economy depends on the availability and prices of critical raw materials.

At the same time, supply and value chains of minerals are vulnerable to disruption. Climate impacts, such as floods, tropical cyclones, crop failure, wildfires, droughts, and heatwaves, may directly hit mineral extraction sites and refineries, and disrupt critical trade routes. On top of that, more and more voices raise the issue of how communities, lands, and the environment are exploited globally by the extraction and processing of these critical minerals. 

From these considerations, the following questions arise: Is it possible to extract and process critical minerals while staying within ecological limits? Can this be done sustainably and in collaboration with local communities/partners around the world? How can we foster collaboration to plan and implement the green transition that is effective, efficient, sustainable and just, for all? The Cascading Climate Impacts simulation creates a playground to explore those questions.

The Cascading Climate Impacts Simulation is an online, narrative-oriented experience that brings the participants to the near future. The simulation is arranged, within a virtual conference centre, as a series of collective decisions preceded by several meetings and discussions. Participants assume roles of representatives of various countries and organizations responsible for global safety and well-being. In these roles, they explore several interactive storylines offering diverse perspectives. They are confronted with a scenario of dramatic events caused by and connected to the climate crisis. The participants are invited to work together to decide on policy propositions for counteracting the emerging crises. The immersive character of their experience stimulates imagination, invokes emotions, encourages learning and knowledge sharing, and motivates action.

Individual exploratory sessions during COP26

The Cascading Climate Impacts Simulation will be available for individual exploration for any interested party: 

An interactive and immersive group simulation session

The Cascading Climate Impacts Simulation will be also available as a collective experience. This interactive and immersive group simulation session with follow-up discussion will be organized by Centre for Systems Solutions in collaboration with Chatham House on Tuesday, November 9, 11:30-12:30 CET (please convert this time to your time zone).


Piotr Magnuszewski, Program Leader, Centre for Systems Solutions

Partners: CASCADES funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 821010, Centre for Systems Solutions