Risk management

Adequate insights into the uncertainties that affect changes in production, transformation & exchange processes and developments in consumption practices may help to convince public, private and civic parties to engage in environmental upgrading and inclusive value chain development programmes. There are different tools for assessing the environmental risks of investment activities and for providing insights into the distributional effects of market interventions. These can be used to facilitate policy debates on different strategies towards inclusive and sustainable agrifood systems.

Current thinking on risk is changing

The current thinking on risk and uncertainty is clearly changing, moving towards a balance between coping and mitigation strategies. Moreover, attention is shifting towards strategies for dealing with shocks and for
increasing resilience at different system levels (plot, farm, chain, region, country, world). This implies that due attention is given to linkages and feedbacks between systems, and known unknowns among system connections and sensitivities. Powerful new interactive and dynamic tools, including multi-agency simulation, complex adaptive systems, Bayesian networks and fuzzy cognitive mapping, have become available for these dynamic analyses.

In the field of policy research, we focus on more and better insights into the dynamics of different risk factors (species, households, regions, climate, diseases) and the opportunities for enhancing resilience. Ex-ante investments in increasing plant and animal resilience and controlling soil-borne diseases are receiving increasing attention. In addition, resilience management in the agrifood chain and agrologistic networks is focusing more on increasing adaptive capacities to improve quality management and reduce losses. In a similar vein, landscape and ecosystem management approaches that include elements of biobased and circular economics are likely to be better at reducing disaster risk and enhancing popular participation in governance. Moreover, experiences wit
insurance against plant and animal diseases and rainfall variability can be used to promote investments and innovations which will mitigate various disasters.

Since energy subsidies favour non-renewables in particular, assessments have to include their long-term impact on climate change, and farm behaviour if subsidies are eliminated. Cost-benefit analyses (CBA) can help compare continuing trends (with intensive use of coal, gas, oil) and the long-term costs of climate change with the cost of measures taken in the near future to mitigate climate change, including extreme climate events.