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International Workshop on Food Security Modelling

by David

From March 10-12, the UFZ was host to an international workshop on “Modelling approaches to enhance food security: Synergies from bridging the gap between the micro and the macro scale”, organised by Birgit Müller and our POLISES group, Thomas Heckelei (University of Bonn), and Christoph Müller (PIK). The workshop brought together specialists from institutions in Costa Rica, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US.

Food security is a complex challenge. As agri-food systems are characterised by interactions across scales and non-linear behaviour in time, modelling approaches in this domain range from global to local perspectives and span several disciplines that rely on quite diverse conceptual and theoretical bases. Macro-modelling studies and studies at the micro level are seen as complementary. However, a gap between both levels exists. The workshop provided a space for discussion of innovative methodological strategies that can bridge this gap and for exchange between scientists engaged in such endeavours. The central point on the workshop agenda was synthesis, based on a comparison of existing modelling approaches ranging from global equilibrium trade and crop models down to local agent-based models of land use change and microsimulation models. Furthermore, the group explored potential strategies to bridge the identified gaps between the modelling approaches. Over three days of lively debate, the experts identified the gaps where current modelling approaches fall short, and how they can be advanced and better connected to address food security in a more comprehensive way.

A main outcome of the workshop is the draft structure of a joint review paper that will be elaborated over the next months. The participants also discussed ideas of a summer school on modelling approaches related to food systems, and for further collaborations and exchange between the working groups. This is a first step towards a more comprehensive contribution of simulation models to global food security.

Workshop participants: Thom Achterbosch (Wageningen University & Research), Calum Brown (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology), Gunnar Dreßler (POLISES), Jiaqi Ge (The James Hutton Institute), Thomas Heckelei (University of Bonn), Thomas Hertel (Purdue University), Falk Hoffmann (POLISES), James Millington (King’s College London), Tom Morley (Wageningen University & Research), Birgit Müller (POLISES), Christoph Müller (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research – PIK), Gary Polhill (The James Hutton Institute), Ralf Seppelt (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ), Mark van Wijk (International Livestock Research Institute – ILRI), Peter Verburg (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Heidi Webber (Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research – ZALF).

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