Global Polycrisis: The Causal Mechanisms of Crisis Entanglement


The authors translate polycrisis from a loose concept into a research agenda by providing the concept with a substantive definition, highlighting its value-added in comparison to related concepts, and developing a theoretical framework to explain the causal mechanisms currently entangling many of the world’s crises. In this framework, a global crisis arises when one or more fast-moving trigger events combines with slow-moving stresses to push a global system out of its established equilibrium and into a volatile and harmful state of disequilibrium. The paper then identifies three causal pathways—common stresses, domino effects, and inter-systemic feedbacks—that can connect multiple global systems to produce synchronized crises.

Note: this article updates a pre-publication version of the paper that was released in June 2023.


Michael Lawrence, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Scott Janzwood, Johan Rockström, Ortwin Renn, and Jonathan F. Donges

Publication Date

17 January 2024


Global Sustainability



Resource Type

Academic Journal Article

Systems Addressed

Climate • Earth System • Economy • Geopolitics and International Security • Social Order and Governance

Uses the term polycrisis

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