event 11 Oct 2018

Science Forum 2018 Plenary Session // Grappling with Complex Systems: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus Experience

This document summarises the findings of two background papers that were commissioned to guide the discussions in the "Grappling With Complex Systems: The Water-Energy-Food Nexus Experience" session. The two papers are "The climate-land-energy and water nexus: Implications for agricultural research" and "Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Agriculture Research for Development: The case for integrative modelling via place-based observatories."

tag Governance (of the Nexus) tag SDGs
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New paradigms regarding agriculture as an integral part of interlinked value chains that promote sustainable growth, food and energy security and waste reduction are emerging. The Water-Energy-Food Nexus embodies several tradeoffs/synergies between food, environment, health/nutrition. The main focus of the session is on ways in which we can reconcile the many interactions in this complex system and use these approaches to improve the way CGIAR research is designed and implemented.

One way of dealing with complex systems is through models. Models are tools: their real usefulness stems not only from their ability to predict the outcome of management interventions, but rather in their power to foresee the likelihood and severity of opportunities and consequences that might arise from a combination of climate, soil, plant, animal and human interactions. The difference between prediction and foresight might appear subtle, yet it is profound: predicting an outcome transfers all power to the person making the prediction (usually a scientist), while foreseeing likelihoods and consequences empowers actors to choose and actively create the desirable future they envision while avoiding undesirable outcomes.


Science Forum 2018 website (open access)

Background Papers


Cecilia Vey


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