Cascading instabilities (KB-29-009-001)

Project: LNV project

Project Details


Worldwide food production systems are under pressure impeding their production capacity and increasing their vulnerability to shocks. The increasing global interdependence of socioecological systems (SES) presents an additional risk that may result in the decline in or collapse of one system leading to the collapse of linked systems (cascading effects).

An example of cascading effects in linked SES is given by China and Africa. Food security in both regions is stressed related to an increasing demand for food and feed with a growing population. In China the agricultural development is characterized by inefficient use of water and excessive use of agrochemicals resulting in land and water pollution, erosion, water shortage, a loss of biodiversity and increased health risks. In contrast, African agriculture is characterized by marginalization and depletion of the natural resource base. Key drivers of the SESs are population growth, technological development and climate change which may aggravate or alleviate the stress.

We will look at Ethiopia which could be at risk from cascading instabilities as a country but also as a coupled region. At the national level the interconnected food, natural, market and political systems already face biophysical and socioeconomic stresses. Moreover, the nation is linked through relations in food and related products, shaped around for example Chinese investments and increasingly by trade. How the increasing interdependencies may contribute to instabilities or stability of Ethiopia is described and quantified.

The above-presented case can be used to understand risks of collapse of networks, with practical applications for stakeholders. Fuzzy cognitive mapping involving also other Wageningen UR groups and stakeholders will be used to perform a topological network analysis of the case. Concepts of resilience and tipping points will be used to analyze the network and identify possible weak points that may start or likely respond to cascading effects.

Effective start/end date1/01/1631/12/16


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.