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Complexity is a term used to describe technically, an interconnected network of components that cannot be described by a few rules; generally manifest in structure, order, and functioning emerging from the interactions among diverse parts. To understand complexity, first of all, is this to agree that everything is inter-connected, every action taken (positive, negative or neutral will create a footprint or reaction in the future). For example, when we want to grow vegetables, we need to put seeds in the soil.

From experience, we know also that in a few months, depending on several factors such as climate, temperature, sun, wind, rain or water system, soil nutrients it will grow and be harvested. Nevertheless, we cannot tell exactly the outcome or result. Solving problems within sustainable development and environmental issues are very complex and the outcome of actions require rather putting things together than taking things apart, simultaneously input from experts and details calculated. Solving complexity needs thinking in systems. Complexity theory is an approach to the modelling of highly complicated and interconnected systems using techniques derived from the physical sciences, with a focus on self-organisation, emergence, and nonlinearity.

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Sources and recommended books:

  • Systems Thinkers by Magnus Ramage and Karen Shipp at The Open University 2009 by Springer
  • Systems Thinking Coping with 21st Century Problems by John Boardman and Brian Sause CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group 2008
  • Whole System Design An Integrated Approach to Sustainable Engineering by Peter Stasinopoulos, Michael H. Smith, Karlson ‘Charlie’ Hargroves and Cheryl Desha publishing for a sustainable future Earthscan 2009

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