Sweta Chakraborty, PhD

Dr. Sweta Chakraborty is more than a cognitive behavioral scientist. She is a risk expert for the well-being of the planet who offers solutions to the challenges that threaten the survival of the human race. From climate change, food and water security and scarcity, over-population, and pandemics, Dr. Chakraborty is the go-to person to learn the truth and consequences of a planet at risk.

 

As director of a science and technology policy think tank, Dr. Sweta has unique access to the most cutting edge science and tech innovations to offset these pressing global issues. From geo-engineering solutions for carbon management to new genetic engineering techniques for applications in agriculture and food, Dr. Sweta knows.  Not only has she worked in the private sector as Chief Scientist for a risk management-consulting firm, she has taught at Columbia University as an adjunct professor. She emphasizes that science and technology solutions in tandem with behavioral interventions will ensure both the private and public sectors are adapting to the rapid changes facing our planet.

 

Dr. Chakraborty has over 25 published articles, has contributed to 3 edited books, and is author of the forthcoming books “Pharmaceutical Safety: A Study in Public and Private Regulation,” following her postdoctoral studies at the University of Oxford, and “We are at Risk.”

 


 

Areas of expertise

 

As a trained cognitive behavioral scientist, Sweta has worked extensively with individuals, governments, and corporations in helping them to better understand the risks they face.  Identifying the gap between perceptions of risk versus actual risk is critical in developing the appropriate course of action.  Sweta has unique insight into the many opportunities—from behavioral interventions to science and technology innovations–that accompany risks. Clear concise, credible tailored communication is necessary to foster and retain public trust and ensure business as usual through the upcoming changes we collectively face.  Sweta’s experience across the five pillars of risk described below positions her to provide expertise and guidance on the best decisions for individuals and their business to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing planet.

Climate Change

Climate change impacts take many nefarious forms (e.g., droughts, wildfires, rising sea levels, severe storms).  These impacts have profound implications across all aspects of society, from parents’ decisions behind how long to let children play outside to business considerations behind supply chain vulnerability.  Disruptive climate change events will be felt one way or another by every inhabitant of this planet, generally increasing in frequency and intensity over time.

Food Security

Food is one of the most important commodities worldwide, impacting on each and every life on the planet through its availability, production, transport, and trade. The addition of more than 2 billion individuals to the global population in combination with changing dietary habits is expected to require a doubling of the amount of food, feed and fiber currently produced. This will have a profound impact on food security, or the access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food allowing for the maintenance of a healthy life.

Water Scarcity

Water is the most extracted natural resource on Earth, and the one natural resource for which there is no substitute. Water scarcity, or the lack of sufficient available water resources to meet regional water needs, is being exacerbated by climate change.  Nearly half of all the world’s population already lives in water stressed areas, and tensions are increasing over this shared resource. Agriculture uses 70% of the earth’s water, and adjustments must be made to ensure water availability for consumption, the environment, and food production.

Pandemics

Pandemics are a leading cause of human suffering and death, a major threat to international commerce and an increasingly critical source of worldwide social strife. Modern infrastructure and transportation has made the movement of humans, animals, and goods increasingly fast and efficient, but it is this same system that can aid to spread an infectious disease outbreak globally.  As we have seen with recent outbreaks (e.g., Ebola, Swine Flu, Zika), we are largely unequipped to quickly contain this deadly, invisible threat. Increasing instances of antibiotic resistance create further vulnerabilities for a global population at risk.

Overpopulation

The overarching trend across all of these topic areas is overpopulation, and it deserves its own pillar. Overpopulation is often a contentious study even in academic circles given the variety of perspectives regarding planet habitability. There is widespread scientific consensus that the world population will increase by 2+ billion to 9.8 billion people by 2050, with Africa hosting the bulk of the growth. Implications for the planet’s inhabitants by region must be considered in relationship to the key pillars presented here.

Solutions

Science and technology innovations like genetic engineering hold considerable promise for addressing the challenges described in these pillars. New gene-editing techniques are only at the nascent stages of development and application. These types of innovations are by no means a panacea, and more cost-effective cognitive behavioral interventions also have a role to play as we tackle these global challenges. A collective, multidisciplinary effort between traditional science and technology fields that take into account new insights from the behavioral sciences is required for humanity and business to survive and thrive.

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