- Aquaculture and the resilience of global food systems
- Book: Principles of social-ecological urbanism
- Water resilience for human prosperity
- Seminar with Cass R.Sunstein: Freedom of Choice
- Short course: Applied Methods Related to Regime Shifts in Social-Ecological Systems
- Mangroves offer protection against storm winds
- Challenges to make farmed fish reach the poor
- Does the threat of environmental collapse change our behavior?
- Seminar: Our future in the Anthropocene
- J. Marty Anderies Programme Director for BENN
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Aquaculture and the resilience of global food systems
The food systems upon which humans rely are fragile and are being constantly put under strain due to the relentless rise in global demand for animal protein. Resource scarcity & degradation of ecosystems combined with the greater frequency of shocks and unexpected events creates cumulative pressures. What is the role of aquaculture in addressing this dilemma?
A new article to be published in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of sciences authored by a group of globally renowned interdisciplinary scholars led by Dr Max Troell of the Beijer Institute for Ecological Economics and the Stockholm Resilience Centre asks the question: Will aquaculture (farming of fish for human consumption), the fastest growing sector of the food system, enhance or detract from the resilience of the global food system?
The global food system: fragile and vulnerable
More food is needed for a growing global population. There is an increasing appetite for animal protein – particularly in countries with growing economies such as China and India. This poses an epic challenge in terms of using natural resources (feed, water, and energy) as efficiently as possible while minimising environmental impacts. Furthermore, resource scarcity and the impacts of climate change put pressure on food production systems. “These effects occur in the context of rapidly fluctuating food prices which undermine food security” says Prof. Roz Naylor, a co-author based at Center on food security and the Environment, Stanford University.
This was powerfully demonstrated during 2008 when spikes in food prices led to food riots in many places around the world. As noted by a co-author on the paper Dr Marten Scheffer; “Our current system based around chicken, pork and beef is terrifyingly monolithic, inflexible and exposed to potentially disastrous shocks.”
Aquaculture offers the potential to reduce the fragility of the global food system by acting as a powerful buffer by deepening the portfolio of proteins that are available for human consumption. “The incredible, meteoric rise of aquaculture during the last two decades provokes both optimism and apprehension among scientists and policy analysts concerned with global food security,” says Dr Marc Metian.
The growth is indeed remarkable. The cultivation of fish and shellfish in freshwater and marine systems grew at an annual rate of 7.8% worldwide between 1990 and 2010; a rate that substantially exceeded that of poultry (4.6%), pork (2.2%), dairy (1.4%), beef (1.0%), and grains (1.4%) over the same period). As a general trend, the price of farmed seafood has been less variable than prices in other sectors of the food system. The amount of industrially produced feeds currently used by aquaculture is a small fraction (~4%) of global animal feed utilization.
Aquaculture’s net contribution to global food supplies will depend not only on its use of food-grade crops and its ability to use agriculture residues, but also on its future utilization of wild fish for feeds which is also entangled with issues of social equity and ethics. A key example is the ethical trade-off between fish and crops being used directly for food versus using them to feed farmed aquatic animals and livestock.
An innovative approach
The paper uses an innovative framework called Portfolio theory which enabled the authors to measure how growth in aquaculture and diversifying food production enhances the ability of the global food system to meet future demands under changing conditions. Dr Troell says that; “This first set of global quantitative and qualitative estimates of aquaculture crop feedstuff use indicates a strong overlap with terrestrial animal farming, but that the volumes used for aquaculture are still low.”
A call to action – moving beyond academia
At the conclusion of the article, the authors make a strong call to action;
“If the aquaculture industry seeks to dominate the global market for animal protein, it should take a leading role in promoting a strategy of resilience. By doing so, it can contribute to improving the stability of the world’s portfolio of proteins in support of global food security. This requires the development of a diversity of aquaculture species; the promotion of ethically sourced co-products from the crop, livestock, and fisheries sectors for feeds; infrastructure design that uses renewable energy and, the implementation of management practices that minimize wastes and environmental impacts.”
Troell, M., Rosamond L. Naylor, M. Metian, M. Beveridge, P. Tyedmers, C. Folke, K. Arrow, S. Barrett, A-S. Crépin, P. Ehrlich, Å. Gren, N. Kautsky, S. Levin, K. Nyborg, H. Österblom, S. Polasky, M. Scheffer, B. Walker, T. Xepapadeas, A. de Zeeuw. 20104. Does Aquaculture Add Resilience to the Global Food System? PNAS, August 18, 2014
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Book: Principles of social-ecological urbanism
This new publication is the result of a close collaboration between researchers at the Beijer Institute, the School of Architecture, Stockholms Resilience Centre and KIT Arkitektur. It presents the principles of urban design articulated in the work on the project Albano Resilient Campus, a new multi-university urban district on the edge between Stcokholm city centre and the Royal National City Park.
Barthel, S., J. Colding, H. Erixon, S. Grahn, C. Kärsten, L. Marcus, J. Torsvall. 2013. Principles of Social-Ecological Urbanism - Case Study: Albano Campus, Stockholm. Trita-ARK Forskningspublikationer 2013:3
Water resilience for human prosperity
New book introduces new framework for water governance and management
Water is the bloodstream of nature and wise stewardship of freshwater, from the very local to the regional, is central to human development and prosperity. But over-use and mismanagement of freshwater resources now threatens the functioning of ecosystems that are crucial to human activities.
The new book Water Resilience for Human Prosperity, analyses the problems and provides examples of successful water resource management with main focus on freshwater use for current and future food production. The key message of the book that by identifying and understanding the available water resources for humans and nature, we can find solutions that provide prosperity for more people and for a longer time.
The two major forces impacting the water cycle are human-induced: land-use change and consumption for agriculture, households and industries. Understanding the feedbacks in social-ecological systems can help in building water resilience, argue the authors.
"Water is key for maintaining and enhancing the resilience of social-ecological systems that we depend on," says Johan Rockström, director of Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) who is lead author of the book written together with Beijer Institute director Carl Folke and other colleagues at SRC, Stockholm Environment Institute and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Water Resilience for Human Prosperity. Johan Rockström, Malin Falkenmark, Carl Folke, Mats Lannerstad, Jennie Barron, Elin Enfors, Line Gordon, Jens Heinke, Holger Hoff and Claudia Pohl-Wostl, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 2014.
Seminar with Cass R.Sunstein: Freedom of Choice
How a gentle nudge can change our behaviour
No registration is needed
Short course: Applied Methods Related to Regime Shifts in Social-Ecological Systems
The course is arranged by the Beijer Institute in conjunction with the World Conference of Environmental and Resource Economists, WCERE 2014 June 27-28, 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey. Its target audience is researchers from developing and transition countries, especially encouraging applicants from the regional environmental economics networks CEEPA, EEPSEA, LACEEP, and SANDEE.
Mangroves offer protection against storm winds
Das, S., Crépin, A.-S. Mangroves can provide protection against wind damage during storms, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2013.09.021
Challenges to make farmed fish reach the poor
Beveridge, M.C.M. ; Thilsted, S.H. ; Phillips, M.J. ; Metian, M. ; Troell, M. ; Hall, S.J. 2013. Meeting the food and nutrition needs of the poor: the role of fish and the opportunities and challenges emerging from the rise of aquaculture. Journal of Fish Biology, VOL. 83, Issue 4. DOI: 10.1111/jfb.12187
Does the threat of environmental collapse change our behavior?
Seminar: Our future in the Anthropocene
J. Marty Anderies Programme Director for BENN