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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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doi:10.5194/esd-2017-38
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
18 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).
A framework for modelling the complexities of food and water security under globalisation
Brian J. Dermody1, Murugesu Sivapalan2, Elke Stehfest3, Detlef P. van Vuuren1,3, Martin J. Wassen1, Marc F. P. Bierkens4, and Stefan C. Dekker1 1Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
3PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague, the Netherlands
4Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
Abstract. In our globalised world, food security and water security are inextricably intertwined. Food production accounts for approximately 70 % of global freshwater use, with variability in agricultural production impacting water resources and vice versa. Trade is central to determining water resource use, because when we trade food, we also trade the water embedded in the production of that food. As the world becomes more globalised and more urbanised, our dependence on trade for food and water security increases. Managing food and water security under globalisation is a complex challenge owing to the increased interdependency among regions and sectors. Given the unprecedented pressure on water resources in the 21st century, there is an urgent need for new models to assist in developing water management policies that capture these complexities.

We present a new framework for modelling the complexities of food and water security under globalisation. The framework sets out a method to capture agency, cross-scale socioenvironmental feedbacks and interdependency brought about by globalisation and urbanisation. The approach unifies and extends the existing fields of hydrology, Integrated Assessment Modelling and agent-based modelling. The core of our framework is a multi-agent network of city nodes and infrastructural trade links. This network captures the important role of cities as centres of food and water demand. In addition, it captures the infrastructural networks that constrain our ability to extract water resources from the environment and redistribute them to meet demand. We believe that this framework can form the basis for a new wave of models that capture cross-scale socioenvironmental feedbacks within our globalised world.


Citation: Dermody, B. J., Sivapalan, M., Stehfest, E., van Vuuren, D. P., Wassen, M. J., Bierkens, M. F. P., and Dekker, S. C.: A framework for modelling the complexities of food and water security under globalisation, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., doi:10.5194/esd-2017-38, in review, 2017.
Brian J. Dermody et al.
Brian J. Dermody et al.
Brian J. Dermody et al.

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Short summary
The globalisation of water resources via food trade has made the management of water resources highly complex. However, we lack decision tools that capture this complexity. We present a framework that outlines how we can capture complex cross-scale feedbacks that determine water use in our globalised world. The framework unifies and extends existing approaches and captures the important role that cities and trade infrastructure play in driving water resource use.
The globalisation of water resources via food trade has made the management of water resources...
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