Monday 5
Water, food and social-ecological resilience
Sylvestre Delmotte, Christo Fabricius
› 11:00 - 18:00 (7h)
› PNR Camargue
Water, food and social-ecological resilience
Christo Fabricius  1@  
1 : Sustainability Research Unit, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University  (NMMU)  -  Website
1 Saasveld Rd, George, 6530 -  Afrique du Sud

Session chair: Christo Fabricius

Type of session: Traditional with four overview papers [Note: it is our intention that the session should be followed by a dialogue, and that the combined sessions should last 3 hours, if possible]


Food systems globally are being stretched beyond their capacity to adapt and renew. Key influencing factors include population growth, over-consumption, pollution, cultivation of monoculture crops over extensive areas at the expense of diversification, lack of governance capacity, unintended consequences of technological innovations, and over-investment in specialized technologies which may act as barriers to diversification and adaptation. Global demands for biofuel, water and land, and climate change are affecting local water and food security and trans-boundary land and water trades are further exacerbating imbalances and vulnerabilities. As many as 66 countries, most of them in developing economies, are no longer able to meet all the food needs of their inhabitants through local production and are dependent on imports. This exacerbates the vulnerability of farmers and citizens in these countries to factors beyond their immediate control.

The dominant conceptualization of food security is to focus on total factor production to meet consumptive needs, i.e. ‘to close the gap'. This approach, while being useful to understand the magnitude of water and food challenges, may be incomplete in coming to grips with the complex feedback loops and tipping points across numerous spatial and temporal scales that may be affecting current trends in water-food-societal relationships. These interactions are not yet fully understood in the context of food systems and working landscapes.

The resilience approach holds promise for understanding and intervening in water-food-societal systems from global to local levels in ways that would enhance the long term well-being of people. Appropriate research & development and extension services which include resilience considerations in addition to productivity are key factors that may influence trajectories towards more sustainable food systems.

Indicative titles: 1) global drivers of water, food and society interactions; 2) consequences and implications for water, food and society, especially in developing countries; 3) policy and strategic responses, including unintended consequences; 4) social-ecological innovations towards new pathways in the relationship between water, food and society.



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