With the increasing complexity of food chains, a systems perspective is crucial for analysing the socio-ecological processes of production and consumption and balancing food demand and supply sustainably. This presentation explores the role of system dynamics based integrated modelling platforms in supporting formulation and assessment of food policies and facilitating the necessary transitions towards sustainable food systems.
A system dynamics based integrative modelling framework is advanced to articulate opportunities for integration of issues, disciplines, scales of analysis, policy formulation and assessment tools, and stakeholder participation. Such approach is illustrated with case studies where integrative modelling processes have been conducted to promote better food systems management. Participatory system dynamics modelling, for example, has a lot to offer in the context of integrated environmental and sustainability assessment of food policies. Facilitated modelling methods provide a platform to actively engage stakeholder groups in modelling activities and collaboratively unravel the feedback structures underlying socio-ecological interrelationships. That is the case of participatory systems mapping, a form of participatory modelling oriented towards promoting learning and co-production of knowledge among researchers and policy-makers, which was applied in two knowledge brokerage events conducted in Portugal, focusing on several food issues, such as sustainability impacts in food chains, food consumption habits and the emergence of food waste. Other examples of integrative potential will be addressed, including the combination of modelling processes with visioning and scenario methods, as well as policy appraisal and valuation tools.
In conclusion, integrated modelling concepts and tools offer promising solutions to enhance the study of sustainable food systems, namely by adopting an interdisciplinary and long-term perspective, developing shared problem understandings and opening up policy formulation and assessment processes to plural perspectives through stakeholder engagement.