Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 712–731 | Cite as

Modelling food system resilience: a scenario-based simulation modelling approach to explore future shocks and adaptations in the Australian food system

  • Seona Candy
  • Che Biggs
  • Kirsten Larsen
  • Graham Turner


This paper outlines a process for exploring food system vulnerability and resilience using scenario modelling with the Australian Stocks and Flows Framework (ASFF). The capacity of ASFF to simulate how diverse shocks and stressors affect food system behaviour across multiple sectors—with diverse, interconnected and dynamic variables shaping system response—renders ASFF particularly suited for exploring complex issues of future food supply. We used ASFF to explore the significance of alternative agricultural policies for land use, crop production, livestock production, fisheries, food processing, transport, food waste and ultimately food supply. Policies in different scenarios varied with regard to the timetable for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the degree of government participation or regulation in the food system and the scale of solutions (varying from centralized and global to decentralized and local). Results from the scenarios suggest that Australia does not have the ability to maintain a domestic surplus of foods required for a nutritious diet. In particular, the health of the current food system is highly vulnerable to constraints in oil supply, and increased food production threatens to precipitate a drastic decline in critical water supplies. We conclude by outlining a proposed method for using ASFF to delve deeper into the dynamics of the food system, probe the consequences of various adaptive responses to food production and supply challenges and devise potential indicators for food system resilience. Shocks and stressors to be added to the next phase of scenario modelling include soil salinity, climate extremes and credit scarcity. The ASFF methodology should be applicable to other parts of the world, although appropriate recalibration and adjustment of model assumptions would be required to reflect regional differences.


Food Security Food System Scenario Modelling Infrastructure System Global Food System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Candy and Larsen are researchers with an Australian Research Council Linkage Project, ‘Modelling policy interventions to protect Australia’s food security in the face of environmental sustainability challenges’ (LP120100168), a collaboration between researchers at the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (VEIL) at the University of Melbourne, Deakin University and Australian National University. Aspects of this paper relating to resilience modelling were drawn from research funded by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) at the University of Melbourne.


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Copyright information

© AESS 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Seona Candy
    • 1
  • Che Biggs
    • 1
  • Kirsten Larsen
    • 1
  • Graham Turner
    • 1
  1. 1.Victorian Eco-Innovation LabUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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