Special Issue "Critical issues on Agri-food System Management: Addressing Complexity in Present and Future Challenges"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2019)
Dr. Tiziano Gomiero
Independent consultant and researcher on multi-criteria farming and food system analysis, agro-energies, environmental issues, Treviso, Italy
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Interests: farming system analysis; agroecology; organic agriculture; GMOs; biofuels; soil conservation; biodiversity/bioindicators; human impact on the environment; societal metabolism; population-Water-energy-food nexus; ecological economics; science-policy interface
The food system encompasses the chain of activities associated with production in the field, processing, marketing, consumption, and waste disposal, as well the resources required and the impact caused by those processes (Tansey and Worsley, 1995; Lang et al., 2009). The term “agri-food system” is often used to emphasize the role of agriculture (e.g., OECD/FAO, 2016). The proper functioning of the food system is vital to society. Assessing agri-food systems’ sustainability is a complex matter, due to the multi-functional nature of agriculture and the multi-scale nature of the relations between agroecosystems and socio-economic systems (Smil, 2000; Giampietro, 2004; Conway, 2012). The globalization process introduces further complexity into the functioning of agri-food systems.
We are facing a critical situation, requiring the urgent definition of viable actions to enable the food system to cope with its present and future challenges. Rising world population, land and soil degradation, rising pollution, biodiversity loss, resources shortage (e.g., water, energy, land), conflict over resource use (e.g., food vs. fuels, large land holdings vs. small farmers, the livestock issue), and the impact of climate change (Foley et al., 2011; Gerland et al., 2014; FAO and ITPS, 2015; Gomiero, 2015, 2016; Steffen et al., 2015) call for the adoption of a complex approach in the assessment of viable management strategies and policies for the agri-food system, in the awareness that “ceteris” are never “paribus”. That entails addressing how the effects of a specific action may impact the whole system, and then pursuing a whole system assessment by addressing its pros and cons. In this context, the “Nexus approach”—an integrated analysis of food, water, and energy—is gaining attention (Howells and Rogner, 2014; FAO, 2014; Giampietro et al., 2014; Webber, 2015).
This Special Issue welcomes papers that:
- address biophysical and socioeconomic issues relevant for better understating the complex functioning of the food system;
- discuss pros, cons, and trade-offs of potential “solutions”, envisaged policies, and scenarios;
- present tools able to address the challenge posed by the complex nature of the food system.
Dr. Tiziano Gomiero
Conway, G., 2012. One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World? Cornell University Press: Ithaca, NY, USA.
FAO, 2014. Walking the Nexus Talk: Assessing the Water-Energy-Food Nexus in the Context of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. FAO, Rome, http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3959e.pdf
FAO and ITPS, 2015. Status of the World’s Soil Resources (SWSR). Main Report; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils: Rome, Italy. Available online: ftp://ext-ftp.fao.org/nr/Data/Upload/SWSR_MATTEO/Main_report/Pdf/web_Soil_Report_Main_001.pdf
Foley, J.A., et al., 2011. Solutions for a Cultivated Planet. Nature, 478, 337-342
Gerland, P., et al., 2014. World Population Stabilization Unlikely this Century. Science, 346, 234–327.
Giampietro, M. 2004. Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Agroecosystems. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, USA.
Giampietro, M. et al., (Eds) 2014. Resource accounting for sustainability assessment: The nexus between energy, food, water and land use. Routledge, New York, USA.
Gomiero, T., 2016. Soil Degradation, Land Scarcity and Food Security: Reviewing a Complex Challenge. Sustainability, 8, 1-41. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/8/3/281
Gomiero, T., 2015. Are Biofuels an Effective and Viable Energy Strategy for Industrialized Societies? A Reasoned Overview of Potentials and Limits. Sustainability, 7(7), 8491-8521; doi:10.3390/su7078491
Howells, M., Rogner, H-H., 2014. Water-energy nexus: Assessing integrated systems. Nature Climate Change, 4: 246–247.
Lang, T., Barling, D., Caraher, M. 2009. Food policy: Integrating health, environment and society. Earthscan, London, UK.
OECD/FAO, 2016. OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2016-2025, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/agr_outlook-2016-en
Smil, V., 2000. Feeding the world: A challenge for the twenty-first century. The MIT Press: Cambridge, MA, USA.
Steffen, et al., 2015. Planetary Boundaries: Guiding Human Development on a Changing Planet. Science, 347, DOI: 10.1126/science.1259855
Tansey, G., Worsley, T. 1995. The Food System: A Guide. Earthscan, London, UK.
Webber, B.E., 2015. A Puzzle for the Planet. Scientific American, February, 63-67.
Manuscript Submission Information
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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
- agricultural practices
- agriculture economics
- agri-food chain
- climate change
- ecological economics
- environmental impact
- environmental conflicts
- farming system analysis
- food chains
- food security
- food sovereignty
- Nexus approach
- resources use
- rural development
- scenario analysis
- social conflicts
- societal metabolism
- soil management