Regions at risk are assessed in view of the nature of complexity as cross-scale interactions, the impossibility of predicting futures and the potential for flips in quasi-equilibrium states. While multi-attribute analyses of vulnerability, risk and ‘hot spots’ are commonly studied, the anticipation of new vulnerabilities, and new environment-development interactions, has not yet been demonstrated.

The policy implications of our research concern the governance of regions at risk – those complexes of environment-development interactions that are at or close to a tipping point of collapse.

Our concern is to explore plausible futures where a complex of vulnerability tips into a humanitarian crisis. Conversely, we also intend to explore the potential for scaled up improvements in livelihoods, those plausible futures that achieve sustainability and a substantial reduction in vulnerability.

Dialogue with stakeholders at several scales is an integral part of this research in order to understand the conditions for transformative interventions.