Developing Resilient Agri-food and Forest Systems

  • Developing Resilient Agri-food and Forest SystemsAgri-food and forest systems are vital for meeting the needs of society, the economy, and the planet. They play significant roles in production, trade, and the environment. The sustainable development of agri-food and forest systems requires the sustainable provision of resources such as water, soil, waste (nutrients), and energy.

    Resource management within the agri-food and forest systems have so far been applied in a sector-oriented approach, such as integrated water resource management (IWRM). Despite their integrative nature, sector-oriented approaches like IWRM often do not consider the interconnectedness or interlinkages with other resources (e.g., soil, biodiversity, and energy). This lowers resource-use efficiency and restricts the full functioning and productivity of a complex system. The current “siloed” approach of resource management plans and strategies do not take cross-sectorial benefits into full consideration, which hinders the growth of production and economic development.

    The innovative methodologies of the Resource Nexus must be developed and tested in agri-food and forest systems to increase the overall efficiency and sustainability of resource use across sectors and along the supply chain.

    A more in-depth understanding and application of the Resource Nexus increases the ability of various stakeholders of agri-food and forest systems – from practitioners and decision makers to consumers – to:

    • ensure supply of goods (e.g., food, fodder, fibre, wood, and bioenergy) and ecosystem services (e.g., store, filter and transform nutrients, substance, water, biodiversity, and carbon pool) that humankind benefits from and significantly rely on
    • preserve natural resources that are non-renewable (e.g., soil)
    • enlarge social and economic benefits by reducing environmental costs and impacts

    To achieve the overarching objective of advancing the application of nexus-oriented resource management in agri-food and forest systems, this research theme aims to address the above three issue areas.

    The projects and programmes related to agri-food and forest systems cover at least one of these issue areas from a Resource Nexus perspective, looking at all relevant natural resources, including water, soil, waste, energy, and biodiversity across practices of production, supply chain, and waste utilisation.