Meeting the Global Sustainable Development Goals on a Changing Planet with Limited Land and Water Resources

Getting started




In the next 40 years, the global Food-Energy-Water (FEW) system will face significant resource challenges that are interconnected—both across systems and across scales—so that addressing one system or location will inevitably cascade into others. Expanded U.S. corn ethanol production, for example, was projected to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, factoring in spillover impacts of the corn ethanol mandate across spatial scales led to very different conclusions while cross-system studies revealed how expanded production contributed to nitrate leaching and groundwater drawdown. Decision makers without the capacity to factor in these interconnections risk inadvertently pursuing unsustainable FEWS solutions. Despite significant investments made by the integrated assessment communities at both global and regional scales, a critical research gap remains in the ability to assess sustainability solutions that have both cross-system and cross-scale components needed to achieve a complete analysis of tradeoffs associated with alternative policy and management interventions. The interdisciplinary team will address this knowledge gap by developing and applying a path-breaking integrative framework for analysis of FEWS solutions that highlights synergies and tradeoffs resulting from different policy levers to allow the development of more comprehensive sustainability solutions. This open-source, reproducible, and accessible framework will strategically build on a portfolio of internationally vetted tools the team has authored as global models of hydrology and water quality, food, bioenergy and U.S. agro-ecology. Researchers will systematically explore solutions beginning with analysis of individual interventions and progressing to multiple interventions that reveal how policy levers interact across systems and scales for a Global to Local to Global community of practice. Integrated project goals are to: 1) establish system behavior and identify the performance of individual levers and feedbacks to the larger integrated system via cascading pathways of impacts; 2) using the integrated system, identify high-performing strategies composed of multiple levers that reveal the trade-offs, synergies and economic costs associated with managing FEWS challenges; and 3) foster development of a community of practice utilizing Global-Local-Global methods to examine integrative solutions to these FEWS challenges.:

GLASS personnel

Tom Hertel (PI), Dominique van der Mensbrugghe, David Johnson, Carol Song, Uris Baldos, Jing Liu, Iman Haqiqi, Lan Zhao, Jungha Woo and Jeffrey Sanson.

University of New Hampshire: Richard Lammers, Wil Wollheim, Danielle Grogan, Steve Frolking and Shan Zuidema

University of Wisconsin-Madison: Christopher Kucharik

More information

Presentations from the advisory board meeting on December 17th, 2019