Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
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. Dermody, Murugesu Sivapalan, Elke Stehfest, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Martin J. Wassen, Marc F. P. Bierkens, and Stefan C. Dekker

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.

Short summary
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.
Final-revised paper