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Volume 9, issue 1 | Copyright

Special issue: Social dynamics and planetary boundaries in Earth system...

Earth Syst. Dynam., 9, 103-118, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-9-103-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 31 Jan 2018

Research article | 31 Jan 2018

A framework for modelling the complexities of food and water security under globalisation

Brian J. Dermody1,2,3, Murugesu Sivapalan4, Elke Stehfest5, Detlef P. van Vuuren1,5, Martin J. Wassen1, Marc F. P. Bierkens6, and Stefan C. Dekker1,7 Brian J. Dermody et al.
  • 1Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • 2Centre for Complex Systems Studies, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • 3Department of Science, University College Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 4Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
  • 5PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague, the Netherlands
  • 6Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
  • 7Faculty of Management, Science and Technology, Department of Science, Open University, Heerlen, the Netherlands

Abstract. We present a new framework for modelling the complexities of food and water security under globalisation. The framework sets out a method to capture regional and sectoral interdependencies and cross-scale feedbacks within the global food system that contribute to emergent water use patterns. The framework integrates aspects of existing models and approaches in the fields of hydrology and integrated assessment modelling. The core of the framework is a multi-agent network of city agents connected by infrastructural trade networks. Agents receive socio-economic and environmental constraint information from integrated assessment models and hydrological models respectively and simulate complex, socio-environmental dynamics that operate within those constraints. The emergent changes in food and water resources are aggregated and fed back to the original models with minimal modification of the structure of those models. It is our conviction that the framework presented can form the basis for a new wave of decision tools that capture complex socio-environmental change within our globalised world. In doing so they will contribute to illuminating pathways towards a sustainable future for humans, ecosystems and the water they share.

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Ensuring sustainable food and water security is an urgent and complex challenge. As the world becomes increasingly globalised and interdependent, food and water management policies may have unintended consequences across regions, sectors and scales. Current decision-making tools do not capture these complexities and thus miss important dynamics. We present a modelling framework to capture regional and sectoral interdependence and cross-scale feedbacks within the global food system.
Ensuring sustainable food and water security is an urgent and complex challenge. As the world...
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