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Every year, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) hosts the prestigious Green Talents – International Forum for High Potentials in Sustainable Development to promote the international exchange of innovative green ideas from various fields of research. The award, under the patronage of Minister Anja Karliczek, honours young researchers each year. The winners come from numerous countries and scientific disciplines and are recognised for their outstanding achievements in making our societies more sustainable. Selected by a jury of German experts, the award winners are granted unique access to the country’s research elite.
Glory Ikponmwosa EDWARDS (Nigeria), PhD Student in Environmental Systems Analysis, Wageningen University, the Netherlands, works on developing scenarios for pathways to a sustainable rice system in Nigeria. She develops these pathways from a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods including stakeholder participation leading to the development of a fuzzy cognitive map; scenario development linking with the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways; and land use modelling.
Currently, rice farming is the largest single use of land for producing food in the world. In Africa, rice is the fastest growing staple. Rice production needs to be increased to accommodate the world’s growing demand for rice while at the same time environmental impacts, such as greenhouse gas emissions and eutrophication, have to be reduced. Simultaneously, the production must adapt to climate change. The system is highly complex; it is driven by interacting social, economic, and environmental factors and requires an integrated approach to assess and understand its past, current, and future states.
Glory aims to develop an analytical framework to integrate adaptation and mitigation pathways at a landscape level to envision a sustainable rice system in her home country Nigeria. She seeks to answer the questions 1) What is? (current system description) 2) What could be? (scenarios/plausible futures) and c) What should be? (envisioning pathways).
First, she identified past and present drivers of agricultural change based on stakeholder surveys and existing data. She developed an aggregated fuzzy cognitive map (FCM) from this knowledge to characterise the system’s current state. This map already indicates some uncertainties in the functioning of the system in the future, and it allows to project possible future dynamics of the drivers of the rice production system.
Since local challenges for climate change adaptation and mitigation in the rice system are dependent on national and international socio-economic developments, Glory will use multi-scale scenarios to take these uncertainties into account. Scenarios capture the sensitivity of the system to multiple drivers and future changes.
Glory is developing scenarios based on Shared Socio-Economic Pathways (SSP) for Nigeria and is linking them to the stakeholder-based FCM to enhance the SSP local relevance and increase the study’s robustness. The scenarios will be entered into a dynamic spatial model (iCLUE), allowing for feedbacks and interactions. This enables her to identify spatially explicit mitigation and adaptation opportunities within the rice-production system from which integrated pathways can be developed. The method is designed to support a system description in a multi-interest and interdisciplinary way, combining qualitative stakeholder knowledge with quantitative modelling approach.
The jury honours Glory’s broad and extensive research profile and the high relevance of her research on sustainable rice production in Nigeria.