Knowledge systems for sustainability: lessons learned from a global community of practice
This century will continue to bring increasing demand for food, rising volatility of agricultural production variables (weather, pests, disease, etc.), water-related risk, market volatility, outbreaks of civil instability related to actual/perceived food access issues, and rapidly growing diet-related public health challenges, all with enormous consequences across human and environmental dimensions. We will describe a collaborative community of practice that is focused on encoding risk and resilience of food systems into global finance as obvious risks to capital, innovation in risk management strategies, and resilience science converge. We have assembled a transnational, trans-sector, post-disciplinary partnership to catalyze the science and technology required to better reflect risk and uncertainty in food systems at the land/water/energy nexus. A primary goal is to value current efforts and spark new strategies to bend our socio-ecological trajectories toward states we can objectively defend as "sustainable" for humans and all other living things.
We have built structured partnerships in curated pre- and post-competitive space toward improving information systems that better describe and predict systems dynamics, risk, resilience and uncertainty related to food, water, energy and climate. We are harnessing the power of major public and private sector entities exposed to risk in food systems and related supply chains, linking public and private sector remote sensing, monitoring networks, intelligence capabilities, dynamic modeling, informatics, modern approaches to scaling and uncertainty with flows of real-time data and state of the art visualization approaches to improve projections of spatio-temporal dynamics and uncertainties in food and other critical systems. Using a number of existing political, technical and economic platforms (G8, G20, the Agricultural Marketing Information Service), GEOGLAM (Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring Community of Practice), APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Corporation) with additional global partners, we have set a collective goal to improve these information resources, recognizing many sensitivities from privacy to sovereignity. We view these knowledge systems as essential enabling infrastructure to turn the power of systematic investigation toward evaluating strategies for change at scale that better manage systemic and more familiar categories of risk. An alliance of research organizations provide the foundation for this collaboration: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Australia's CSIRO, CIMMYT, IIASA and Columbia University's Earth Institute.