Thursday, October 20, 2011

GMS Countries and Early Warning Systems in the Context of Food-Water-energy Nexus

Suggested citation: Prabhakar, S.V.R.K. 2011. Climate Risks to Agriculture/Food Security in the GMS Countries and Early Warning Systems in the Context of Food-Water-energy Nexus. International Conference on GMS 2020: Balancing Economic Growth and  Environmental Sustainability, 2011, 15 - 16 November 2011, Hotel Plaza Athénée, Bangkok. Working Group on Environment (WGE) and Asian  Development Bank (ADB).


The Greater Mekong Subregion has undergone a rapid economic growth over the past decade with positive impacts on the human development and negative impacts on the environment and natural resources. The growing demand for energy in the region and high fuel prices during 2008 has seen several countries declaring ambitious biofuel strategies from which they retreated covertly later on. This has set a debate on nexus between food, water, and energy in the region. Though the biofuels fever has died down sooner than expected, there are chances for reemergence of debate over food-water-energy due to several traditional and non-traditional pressures discussed in this paper that include increasing energy demand, population growth, urbanization, changing life styles, and climate change. Early warning systems can play a crucial role in averting situations like 2008 fuel and food prices. However, there are several bottlenecks to be overcome that include lack of infrastructure and capacity for implementing such EWS. In addition to EWS, this paper discusses some traditional off-the-shelf policies such as general improvement in resource use efficiency in agriculture, water and energy sector, increasing energy supply through renewable sources, and creating a East-Asian Energy Community or a grid that could ease the food-water-fuel nexus in the region to a greater extent. 

Some Excerpts from the Above Paper:

An Early Warning System (EWS) in the context of food-water-energy nexus can be defined as a collection of dependent and independent variables that lead to detection and assessment of impending problem based on feedback connections operating between demand and supply of food, water and energy. A EWS can be as simple as that of a collection of indicators that can provide an early warning to the policy makers and other development planners operating at various levels. It can also be as complex as that of employing dynamic simulation models that can quantitatively represent the real world based on the conditions defined/assumed within the model (the system). A recent example of EWSs for policy decisions can be the EU proposal for building an EWS for energy that simulates the supply and demand situation in the region (European Union, 2009), which includes early warning for long-term energy conditions as well as to handle short supply in oil in short-time scales.

An effective EWS can be built using dynamic simulation models since they can consider the element of time and related dynamics in determining the status of outcomes that could be useful to the policy makers. The use of simulation models in the public policy research is not new. Some examples include:

·         The General Algebraic Modeling System (GAMS) has provided good tool in understanding environment and economics into a single framework.
·         The Asia-Pacific Integrated Model (AIM) has provided a tool to simulate the impact of climate change on natural environment and socio-economics the Asia-Pacific region.
·         Computable general equilibrium (CGE) models have been used for understanding the economy-wide impacts of policies.
·         Multi-regional input-output (MRIO) models have been employed to understand and forecast material flows across different regions.
All the above simulation models are largely used for research purposes that have partially contributed to development of policies rather than for providing real-time early warning for policy purposes. Partially, this could be attributed to the limited understanding of natural, socio-economic and institutional systems.

2.1. Prerequisites for development of an EWS

Development of EWS is dependent on various factors related to the system in question and it has to do with how best the EWS can represent the real world.

Determinants of an effective EWS:
  •  How the system is defined (what components a system constitutes),
  • Understanding of relationships and feedback connections operating between different actors/components of the system,
  • The precision with which these dynamic and static forces are quantified and represented in the model, and
  •  Interpretation of the outcomes of the model as against what it actually mean with implications for the institutions that use the EWS for policy purposes.

2.2. What an EWS should be able to do?

The end result of developing the decision support system for early warning related to food-water-energy should be able to:

1.       visualize demand and supply situation of food, water and energy in the region on short- medium- and long-term basis,
2.       give projections on prices of food, water and energy on immediate and long-term basis so that countries can take preventive and proactive strategies,
3.       help policy makers at various levels to plan appropriate crops, water usage and water conservation practices and how energy is produced and consumed at the regional and national scales,
4.       help in appropriate allocation of resources for food and energy production while keeping in view several constraints such as environmental health, climate change, food prices, and sustainability of resources employed, and
5.       help develop a set of standard operational procedures to be invoked in the wake of a situation like 2008 energy and food crisis.

ContactFor an extended article, please contact the author....

No comments:

Post a Comment