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Food System Sustainability Metrics: Policies, Quantification, and the Role of Complexity Sciences

Matos, J. ; Lopes, R.J.

Sustainability Vol. 13, Nº 22, pp. 12408 - 12408, November, 2021.

ISSN (print): 2071-1050
ISSN (online):

Scimago Journal Ranking: 0,61 (in 2020)

Digital Object Identifier: 10.3390/su132212408

The rise of global attention toward sustainability and sustainable development (SD) has provided increased incentives for research development and investment in these areas. Food systems are at the center of human needs and global population growth sustainability concerns. These drives and the need to provide quantified support for related investment projects led to the proliferation of sustainability metrics and frameworks. While questions about sustainability definition and measurement still abound, SD policy design and control increasingly need adequate quantified support instruments. This paper aims to address this need, contributing to a more consistent and integrated application of food system sustainability metrics and quantified management of the implemented solutions. After presenting the relationships between sustainability, resilience, and robustness and summarizing food system sustainability quantification developments so far, we expose complexity sciences’ potential contributions toward SD quantified evaluation, addressing prediction, intangibles, and uncertainty issues. Finding a paramount need to make sense and bring existing sustainability metrics in context for operational use, we conclude that the articulated application of multiple and independent modeling approaches at the micro, meso, and macro levels can better help the development of food SD policies and implemented solution quantified management, with due regard to confidence levels of the results obtained.