David is a systems thinker, physicist and human systems ecologist. He is interested in the challenges to our societies arising from the transformation of risk. This fits into his broader interests into the evolution, stability, and collapse of complex societies. He is an advocate for a re-appraisal of risk and the need for societal resilience, instability preparedness, and catastrophic shock planning.
He argues we are on the cusp of an inevitable major societal transformations that will largely outrun our capacity to manage or control. The implications will be prolonged and severe. We can choose to face such consequences head-on, and work to support what’s best in our human story in times that threaten to expose the worst. Understanding, anticipation and preparedness is part of this.
David has been a pioneer in drawing upon ideas from fields such as ecology, complexity and systems science, and behavioural science to shed light on emergent risks, vulnerabilities and uncertainties. He has written influential studies on the nature of the globalised economy as a complex living system; the financial and socio-economic implications of a peak in global oil production; the propagation of financial and monetary shocks through trade networks and critical infrastructures; pandemic shocks and the limits to growth. Currently, he is developing a Globally Integrated Systemic Risk framework.
He has given briefings, lectures and delivered workshops world-wide to governmental and non-governmental organisations, critical institutions, parliamentary committees, critical infrastructure companies and the general public. For example, he has been an invited contributor on the socio-economic implications of a severe pandemic for USAID/ US Pacific Fleet ASEAN preparedness, and to the pandemic working group of the Global Agenda Council on Complexity & Risk (World Economic Forum); presented on contingency planning for large-scale socio-economic stress and shocks; and taught a masters course Human Systems Ecology & Systemic Risk at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. David was a ministerial appointment to the council of Comhar, Ireland’s sustainable development commission. He spent a number of years on the executive committee of Feasta, The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability - a think-tank.
David studied physics at Trinity College Dublin, the University of London and the Tyndall National Institute.
Recently David contributed to the Foresight Analysis Nexus. He is director of Risk and Response at the Geneva Global Initiative, which is aimed at state-level preparedness and contingency planning for catastrophic systemic failure in complex societies. He is also working on some developing collaborative projects.