Multiple scales & extreme events

Research on the water-food nexus has produced a large collection of models, datasets and knowledge. For an integral analysis of transition paths within food systems, however, it is necessary that results at different scales can be used together. The resilience of food systems to extreme events (climate, political, economic) can be measured in many ways, but the relationship between these possible measures is not known. This motive contributes to solving both problems.


Within this project two main tasks are performed. (1) Methods will be developed to translate (the results of) models, datasets and knowledge from one scale level to another and between knowledge domains, and (2) A stress test will be developed to estimate in advance the resilience and shock resistance of food security within food systems in case of (unexpected) extreme events.

Task 1 focuses methodologically on how patterns in the variation between different groups of actors (population groups, institutions) and spatial correlations (e.g. by water use or urbanisation) can be used and/or maintained when translating research results from a specific scale level or knowledge domain to another scale level or knowledge domain. To this end, exemplary projects are used in South Asia, with special attention to the relationship between water use and food production, and in East Africa, focusing on the liveability of rural areas. Technical solutions will be sought to enable models to pass on their results to each other, using, among others, the Magnet, LPJml, Image, BioSPACS, Waterwise, MODFLOW and WOFOST models. An ontology is also developed for an unambiguous use of concepts.

In task 2, a collection of narratives will be constructed that provide an overview of the structures within food systems, the extreme events that occur in these systems (climatic, social, economic, political, technological, and in terms of human and animal health) and the ways in which different actors can respond to these events. This will test a comprehensive set of indicators for their predictive ability with regard to the reaction of food systems to extreme events. The best indicators will form the basis for a stress test for food systems. This stress test will describe how information about a food system can be used to predict the resilience of food security to extreme events, such as an outbreak of an infectious animal disease.