Quantified SUSFANS scenario drivers ready to be used for the SUSFANS toolbox

Quantified SUSFANS scenario drivers ready to be used for the SUSFANS toolbox

Providing foresight on the future development of sustainable food and nutrition security (SFNS) in the EU is one of SUSFANS' core targets. This concept encompasses sustainable food systems and sustainable and balanced diets.  

The future of SFNS in the EU will depend on the development of contextual variables such as economic growth and climatic change, and on the responses of the agro-food system through innovation and policies.  

The foresight will rely on the new SUSFANS modeling toolbox, consisting of short-term and long-term economic models to provide quantitative projections of indicators defining the sustainability of the EU food system. The quantitative information will be complemented by qualitative narratives derived from the scenarios reviewed by SUSFANS stakeholders.  

In their new deliverable, the researchers presented a first step in the quantitative part of the foresight. Its main objective is to quantify the contextual variables to be used as input by models in the SUSFANS Toolbox.  

The foresight has been deliberately designed to focus on solutions in terms of (a) innovation pathways, elaborated in the case study supply chains of livestock-fish and fruits-vegetables; and (b) agro-food-nutrition policies. From this perspective, the contextual scenarios are rather a mean to the foresight than its final outcome.

Developing a completely new set of contextual scenarios

Quantitative foresight on food security has been expanding rapidly. It was decided to build on existing narratives and quantified scenario drivers rather than to develop a completely new set of contextual scenarios.

A literature review of existing scenarios, and participatory analysis with the SUSFANS stakeholder core group, resulted in two decisions:

  1. collate the narratives developed in previous EU projects into a single new set;
  2. combine them with quantified scenario drivers from the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), which represents a consistent set of contextual or `indirect‘ drivers of the global food system.  

Selected scenarios

Three contextual scenarios were selected for quantification. From the policy making perspective, it seemed important to develop a business as usual baseline, REF0, representing the reference scenario with respect to which innovation pathways and policies can be tested. In order to test the robustness of the developed solutions with respect to less favourable socio-economic developments, a scenario representing high challenges for EU sustainable FNS was implemented, REF-. Finally, to take into account too the potential alternative of a highly positive development in socio-economic parameters and their capacity to contribute to solve sustainable FNS issues in the EU, a contextual scenario representing low challenges for the EU FNS, REF+, was also applied.

The SUSFANS researchers considered three groups of contextual variables

  1. Variables matched with the SUSFANS scenarios narrative: Population, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), technological change, and International trade policies
  2. Variables constant across the scenarios such as the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy. These policies, and their potential improvements, are subject of detailed standalone analysis at a next stage of SUSFANS.
  3. Variables with multiple potential values for each SUSFANS scenario: Climate change impacts and climate change mitigation policies. Due to large uncertainty both in estimates of climate change impacts and in the developments of climate policies.