Food Security

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 1153–1173 | Cite as

Global food security and food riots – an agent-based modelling approach

  • Davide NataliniEmail author
  • Giangiacomo Bravo
  • Aled Wynne Jones
Original Paper


Due to negative consequences of climate change for agriculture and food production shocks affecting different areas of the world, the past two decades saw the conditions of global food security increasingly worsen. This has resulted in negative consequences for the world economy, partly causing international food price spikes and social upheavals. In this paper we present statistical findings along with a preliminary version of an original agent-based model called the Dawe Global Security Model that simulates the global food market and the political fragility of countries. The model simulates the effects of food insecurity on international food prices and how these, coupled with national political fragility and international food trade can, in turn, increase the probability of food riots in countries. The agents in the model are the 213 countries of the world whose characteristics reflect empirical data and the international trade of food is also simulated based on real trade partnerships and data. The model has been informed, calibrated and validated using real data and the results of these procedures are presented in the paper. To further test the model we also present the model’s forecasts for the near future in terms of food prices and incidence of food riots. The Dawe Global Security Model can be used to test scenarios on the evolution of shocks to global food production and analyse consequences for food riots. Further developments of the model can include national responses to food crises to investigate how countries can influence the spread of global food crises.


Food security Agent-based model Food riots Fragility Forecast International trade 



The authors would like to thank Alexander Phillips, research assistant at the Global Sustainability Institute, who collaborated in a previous version of this paper. In addition, the authors would like to thank the reviewers, whose suggestions definitely improved the quality of this paper. The work related to this paper has been supported by the Dawe Charitable Trust.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Sustainability InstituteAnglia Ruskin UniversityCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Department of Social StudiesLinnaeus UniversityVäxjöSweden
  3. 3.Linnaeus University Center for Data Intensive Sciences & Applications (DISA@LNU)VäxjöSweden

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