New Accelerator for Systemic Risk Assessment Launches, Ruth Richardson Named Executive Director

Washington, D.C.

January 25, 2023


Megan Rabbitt

The UN Foundation announced today the new Accelerator for Systemic Risk Assessment (ASRA), to be led by Ruth Richardson as its inaugural Executive Director. The three-year initiative is designed to contribute to the emerging field of systemic risk analysis with particular attention to helping leaders and practitioners – especially those in the public sector – better understand, assess, and incorporate sensitivity to systemic risks into their decision-making. It will work closely with practitioners, multilaterals, academics, the public and private sectors, as well as other partners across institutions, sectors, and geographies.

ASRA – co-developed by a group of international experts – will be hosted by the United Nations Foundation, with initial funding from the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation. It is grounded in the reality of the global polycrisis and mounting evidence that climate and other impacts are hitting harder and faster than experts had anticipated. Crises are increasingly interrelated across ecological, socio-economic, technological, and political systems – posing an intensifying challenge to our collective capacity to cope with simultaneous crises. ASRA will be guided by diverse perspectives and specifically include values of universal human rights as well as the intrinsic value of biodiversity and living systems, embedding those values in systemic risk frameworks and analysis.

Richardson, who will take on the Executive Director role starting February 1, 2023, comes to this role after a decade as the Executive Director of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. In that capacity she was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to the Advisory Committee for the 2021 Food Systems Summit and as Chair, Champions Network. Richardson has also served on the Steering Committee of TEEBAgriFood led by UN Environment developing a framework and action plan for systemic true cost accounting. She has also held roles in the private, public, and philanthropic sectors.

“We are delighted by the appointment of Ruth Richardson to lead this catalytic initiative to bring new visibility and attention to the emerging field of systemic risk assessment. She is a strategic thinker and relationship-builder, with a powerful track record of collaborative impact working across diverse communities of expertise and practice,” said Elizabeth Cousens, UN Foundation President and CEO. “Scientists, experts, the United Nations, and leading institutions around the globe have called with growing alarm for new attention to managing the complex risks we increasingly face in an interconnected world. The need for the Accelerator for Systemic Risk Assessment has never been more critical.”

“This moment of intersecting crises calls each one of us to act courageously and passionately to safeguard our future,” said Ruth Richardson, incoming Executive Director of ASRA. “I’m deeply encouraged by such an ambitious effort to generate better decisions and transformative impact around systemic risks. I stand wholly committed to rising to the challenge and doing what I can to meet the world’s need for urgent social and ecological transformation.”