Plenary and Planetary Speakers


Plenary Speakers are those individuals who are invited to the conference to address the ISSS Membership on topics directly related to the chosen theme. These presentations constitute the keynote addresses of the conference and are delivered to the general assembly of all Members of the ISSS.

Planetary Speakers complement the Plenary Speaker addresses by providing practical/experiential perspectives on the same themes presented in the plenary sessions from their specific region of the world. Planetary Speakers will not travel to the conference but instead will be patched in via live audio/video transmission to the conference hall so that they may respond to, enrich and build upon the Plenary Addresses with insights, observations and examples of how the themes being considered play out in their geographical area.  

Through this combination of Plenary and Planetary speakers, we intend to enrich the conference experience with the integrated presence and participation of local thought and action leaders from around the world, thereby anticipating the type of collective intelligence needed to fuel the emergence of a global eco-civilization.

We have selected three Plenary Speakers and six Planetary Speakers in the following configuration.


Monday 15th July

Plenary Speaker 1: Ervin Laszlo will launch the conference, painting the biggest picture on the broadest canvass by focusing on the urgent need for establishing a global eco-civilization, and on the role that action-oriented systems scientists need play in curating the conditions for its emergence through the exploration of initiatives that drive Whole-System Evolution.  This will be the stage-setting session on new dimensions in relational intelligence and quantum consciousness, designed to point to ways for systems scientists to move beyond only modeling and mapping complexity to creating relational engagements that embody thrivability and conviviality through new-paradigm education and a planetary consciousness.  

  • Planetary Speaker 1: Enrique Herrscher from Argentina — President of the ISSS in 2005 — will focus on issues of conviviality and participatory processes in social systems inquiry through consideration of the potential impacts of systemics on society as being developed in Latin America.
  • Planetary Speaker 2: Jean Russell from the U.S.A. — founder of, author/innovator on thrivability and leading authority on this subject — will provide critical and practical perspectives on the key concepts of this year’s conference theme — especially those of “curating” and “thrivability”.  


Tuesday 16th July

Plenary Speaker 2: Chrisna du Plessis will address the theme of systemic sustainability and the applicability of systems approaches to issues of sustainability, thrivability and conviviality.  She will complement Monday's presentation of Hai Phong City as the first city in the world to be managed using an integral systems approach by showcasing real-world examples of integral, holistic and truly systemic sustainability from Africa.

  • Planetary Speaker 3: Dimitrios Varsos from Greece — Member of the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Society for Systems Studies (HSSS) — will look at what is being done in Greece to develop effective methodologies and multi-methodologies for the management of organizational complexity for process cohesion.  His experience on how the issues of sustainable development affect the relationship between land and water in the Greek Islands will inform his perspective.
  • Planetary Speaker 4: Javier Valladares from Argentina — representative of the "Academia del Mar" of Argentina — will discuss the guidelines being developed in Argentina for a National Oceanographic Policy to frame systemic sustainability around the theme of “Patagonia Azul”, a pragmatic research project aimed at integrating broad-based citizen understanding of the interdependence between oceanic and terrestrial biomes with geo-political interests in sustainable development.


Plenary Speaker 3: Pamela Buckle Henning will address the issue of how systems theory and systemic thinking can be used to surface new ways of learning in both formal and informal educational environments.  Her presentation will explore both emerging trends in this area as well as the need for new orientations that empower new generations to help construct a global eco-civilization.

  • Planetary Speaker 5: A.T. Ariyaratne from Sri Lanka — founder of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement — will showcasing the initiatives of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in terms of how it is contributing to the emergence of a new narrative of “glocal” self-reliance and interdependence.  He will help paint a picture of the type of global eco-civilization that we, as a species, are ushering in.
  • Planetary Speaker 6: Matjaz Mulej from Slovenia — Vice-President of the International Academy for Systems and Cybernetic Sciences (IACSYS) — will consider how initiatives that draw upon a deeper systemic consciousness can help emerge a much needed self-directed sustainability ethic in nature-embedded communities around the world.



Wednesday 17th July

  • Cat Ba Field Trip


Thursday 18th July

  • Collective Intelligence Plenary: an interactive and participatory session designed to emerge insights into the use of systemic approaches to address contemporary challenges for thrivability.  Conversation foci include —
    • System theory and systemic thinking in solving day-to-day issues
    • New ways of being the systems we want to see in the world 


Friday 19th July