Monday 5
Water, food and social-ecological resilience
Sylvestre Delmotte, Christo Fabricius
› 11:05 - 18:00 (6h55)
› PNR Camargue
Water, food and social-ecological resilience: Biofuels in Ethiopia - Who wins and who loses?
Jennifer Hodbod  1, *@  , Neil Adger  2@  
1 : Arizona State University  (ASU)  -  Website
Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-5402. -  États-Unis
2 : University of Exeter  -  Website
Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, EX4 4SD, UK -  Royaume-Uni
* : Corresponding author

Biofuels have become a major driver of change in social-ecological systems (SES) across the world, and increasingly influence food and water security via multiple mechanisms. At the same time, resilience of social-ecological systems is being widely adopted as a goal for policy, encapsulated in ‘climate resilient development' and other policy objectives. This paper investigates biofuel expansion as a challenge to the resilience of social-ecological systems. Examining the land use, production and consumption dynamics through a resilience framework demonstrates the potential trade-offs, regime shifts and overall impacts on resilience of biofuel expansion. Additionally, this research highlights the differentiated impacts for actors across multiple scales, allowing power relations to be taken into account, a common criticism of resilience studies.

This research analyses both the production and consumption of ethanol in Ethiopia, a land use that is expanding significantly, requiring large-scale conversion of land to sugarcane. This and the subsequent production of sugar and ethanol interacts with multiple variables at multiple scales, for example local and national food systems, local energy systems, the regional ecological system and international trade systems. This multi-scalar approach demonstrates the impacts on all associated actors at the current level of production and the planned expanded level whilst identifying potential thresholds that could cause system shifts and potential loss of well-being.

The analysis is based on multiple primary datasets regarding production of ethanol in one sugar estate in Metehara and consumption in Addis Ababa, collected in 2010-2012 via household surveys and interviews in various localities and documentary evidence. The analysis at the regional scale shows that current levels of sugarcane and ethanol production have not surpassed thresholds and that the system is therefore resilient to the perturbations affecting ecological variables such as water availability and soil quality. Analysis of food security at the local level finds negative impacts for relocated tribal households in the region, who are primarily pastoralist and rely on access to grazing lands and water, which is lost via relocation. Whilst currently resilient and utilising their adaptive capacity, a regime shift is underway for this group of actors, and will be replicated across Ethiopia as the majority of the planned expansion is also in traditionally tribal regions. Therefore, in the future there will be a regime shift for this system from pastoralism to sedentarism. In addition, increased scales of production will also more severely influence the ecological sub-system because of the larger scale of operation, particularly pushing water availability towards a threshold. Finally, analysis of the local consumption system concludes that the substitution of traditional fuels for ethanol does not create the increase in winners predicted.

The analysis of multiple nested scales using a resilience model therefore demonstrates the need to examine all scales so to highlight all the winners and losers, as only examining one scale underplays the dynamic nature of interactions between producers, consumers and those indirectly affected through land use change of biofuel expansion.


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