Next-Generation Food Shock Modeling

    May 19, 2019-May 24, 2019
    Aspen Global Change Institute
    Aspen, CO, USA

Despite being commonplace today, climate-related food shocks are difficult to predict, and it is difficult to track their wider repercussions. It is also widely agreed that the current trajectories of climate change and socioeconomic development will be punctuated by dangerous shocks and extreme event hazards affecting an exposed and vulnerable food system. Co-sponsored by the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute and organized by the Aspen Global Change Institute, the Next-Generation Food Shock Modeling workshop facilitated transformational change and science-based foresight by bringing together climate, agriculture, health and nutrition, trade, security, and humanitarian aid expertise to advance next-generation tools and decision support systems that confront current and future challenges to food security and improved nutrition, with a focus on understanding interactions among complex processes spanning multiple disciplines, systems, and scales.

Discussion topics included recent changes in the global food system (e.g., changing trade networks, food stocks, diets, and human health), current and shifting probabilities of extreme climate hazards (affecting one or more agricultural regions), likely behaviors of key food system players to shocks (e.g., governments, supply chain actors, transport logistics, private companies, international agencies, civil society organizations, and individuals), and the ramifications for society (including economics, land use, migration, dietary insufficiency, food insecurity, and malnutrition). Participants explored real-time monitoring, probabilistic scenarios, and near-term forecasting of climate shocks, including climate variability and climate changes, and their effects on the food system. The workshop also highlighted ways in which this integrated, multi-disciplinary, and action-oriented research may scale up scientific advances in service to society. A major goal was to develop a framework with elements that may be used for operational response and risk assessment, as well as the testing and prioritization of intervention strategies for food shock risk reduction.

The workshop brought together researchers and stakeholders who are strategically advancing critical disciplines including modeling (CMIP/climate, AgMIP/agriculture, integrated assessment models, and food system networks), informatics, behavioral economics, health and nutrition, and risk assessment (e.g., the Sendai Framework). Such transdisciplinary focus is essential given the complex and multi-dimensional aspects of the food system challenges that shocks impose, as well as the myriad of stakeholders and decision makers that attempt to anticipate, mitigate, and respond to growing risks. Workshop participants shared knowledge frameworks and together intuited linkage or interaction points and overarching framework principles for next-generation shock modeling. This included incorporation of highly variable climate extremes, stressors and tipping points, and limitations and opportunities in our ability to make robust predictions and projections of future shock events. This was achieved by tracking the signal of shock events within processes and decision contexts across field, regional, and global scales.

More information is available from the Aspen Global Change Institute.