Sustainable agriculture and resource use under climate changea multi-scale and cross-sectoral approach with a focus on andalusia (spain)

  1. Martinez Muñoz, Maria Pilar
Supervised by:
  1. Maria Blanco Fonseca Director

Defence university: Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Fecha de defensa: 19 September 2019

  1. Isabel Bardaji Azcárate Chair
  2. Eva Iglesias Martínez Secretary
  3. Ignacio Lorite Torres Committee member
  4. Jesús Barreiro Hurlé Committee member
  5. Carlos Dionisio Pérez Blanco Committee member

Type: Thesis


The sustainability of agricultural and food systems is confronted with different challenges that need to be addressed to ensure future food security and environmental preservation. Crop production is very sensitive to climatic conditions and therefore is extremely exposed to climate change impacts on both crop productivity and water availability. In addition, expected future socioeconomic development is likely to add more pressure on resources and drive conflicts between the different sectors. Meanwhile, policies that tackle these challenges are often developed in isolation without regarding cross-sectoral effects, leading to policy incoherence. This demonstrates the need for integrated and harmonised policies that consider trade-offs and synergies across sectors, which requires involving stakeholders and knowledge sharing between decision-makers and the scientific community to frame better informed policies. In this context, this research aims to broaden knowledge on the interrelations between agriculture and the environment to support policy decision-making that promotes sustainable agricultural development and resource use under climate change. Addressing global climate change impacts requires the implementation of strategies at regional level to account for region-specific effects and cross-sectoral connections. In recognition of this, the investigation explores firstly climate change impact on agricultural markets at global and European Union (EU) levels. Then, the scope of the analysis is extended to explore the water-energy-food (WEF) nexus, while at the same time the scale is reduced to the region of Andalusia (Spain). The applied methodological framework draws on the combination of bio-economic modelling, participatory approaches and sensitivity analysis techniques. The bio-economic modelling approach builds on the agro-economic Common Agricultural Policy Regional Impact Analysis model (CAPRI) to assess climate change impacts on agri-food markets at global and EU levels under multiple scenarios that consider different emissions pathways, climate projections and carbon fertilisation effects on crop growth. Through a participatory approach based on Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping (FCM), regional stakeholders from Andalusia were engaged to identify main challenges in the WEF nexus. Additionally, information gathered from this stakeholder consultation process provided the foundation to disentangle key water-related drivers of agricultural development in Andalusia over the temporal horizon of 2050, based on CAPRI-Water outcomes and sensitivity analysis with finite changes. The modelling results show that climate change would considerably affect agri-food markets, although market-driven adaptation strategies (e.g., production intensification, trade adjustments) would soften the impact of yield shocks on supply and demand. As a result, regional changes in production would be lower than those foreseen by other studies focused on supply effects. The results from the participatory process with stakeholders indicate that climate change and water availability are key drivers in the WEF nexus in Andalusia. Other variables with important interlinkages within the WEF nexus are food production, irrigated agriculture, energy cost, socioeconomic factors, irrigation water use and environmental conservation. The scenario analysis reveals the interdependencies among nexus sectors and the existence of unanticipated effects when changing variables in the system, which need to be considered to design integrated policies. The sensitivity analysis of the CAPRI-Water results illustrates that irrigation costs are the most determinant factor in shaping agricultural land, offsetting the impact of the driver water availability. In contrast, irrigation water use is driven not only by irrigation costs but also by irrigation efficiency. The main findings indicate that carbon fertilisation effect is a key factor on the impact of climate change on agriculture and that international trade plays an important role to counterbalance uneven impacts across the world. This suggests that decision-makers must engage to guarantee the coherence between trade regulations and climate policies. The participatory approach reveals that climate change and water availability are the main drivers in the WEF nexus in Andalusia. The sensitivity analysis of the CAPRI-Water results demonstrate that irrigation costs are the most determining factor in shaping agricultural land, with the magnitude of the sensitivity to this driver differing across crops. Identifying the main drivers of future agricultural development provides meaningful information for developing policies that effectively enhance sustainable agriculture and water management in Andalusia. Policies aimed at improving resource use efficiency can contribute to strengthen the resilience and adaptation capacity of future agricultural systems to climate change. Nevertheless, they must consider crop sensitivity to irrigation costs and the potential rebound effect.