Viable Systems Model and Climate Governance

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Discussion document: VSM and climate governance (draft 21 May 2010 - to be treated as work in progress)

The document can be requested from co-author Brian Davey at <[email protected]>


"The VSM (Viable Systems Model) is one of the late Stafford Beer's contributions to the science of 'management cybernetics' – what he referred to as the science of effective organisation. It provides a language for discussing how any human social system needs to organise itself to become and remain 'viable', what, in other words, are the necessary and sufficient conditions for it to survive in a dynamically changing landscape. The VSM enables us to create from scratch an organisational structure in terms of a set of activities and collaborative ventures, rather than striving to overcome the boundaries and inertia of previously existing forms. The model focuses on organisational structures that give people more freedom to be themselves within an overall collaborative project. It indicates how this is achieved through distributing autonomy and responsibility across the various diverse parties, rather than suggesting the need for some single entity to be in charge. There is no reason why it should not be politically acceptable worldwide. In the present context we can use the VSM in two ways. We can use the VSM to discuss how the human family as a whole needs to organise itself within a changing global environment. We can also use the language of the VSM for discussing how the Global Climate Trust itself should be organised to remain viable within a changing political and economic environment."

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