Scoping potential routes to UK civil unrest via the food system: results of a structured expert elicitation

Jones, Aled; Bridle, Sarah; Denby, Katherine; Bhunnoo, Riaz; Morton, Daniel ORCID:; Stanbrough, Lucy; Coupe, Barnaby; Pilley, Vanessa; Benton, Tim; Falloon, Pete; Matthews, Tom K.; Hasnain, Saher; Heslop-Harrison, John S.; Beard, Simon; Pierce, Julie; Pretty, Jules; Zurek, Monika; Johnstone, Alexandra; Smith, Pete; Gunn, Neil; Watson, Molly; Pope, Edward; Tzachor, Asaf; Douglas, Caitlin; Reynolds, Christian; Ward, Neil; Fredenburgh, Jez; Pettinger, Clare; Quested, Tom; Cordero, Juan Pablo; Mitchell, Clive; Bewick, Carrie; Brown, Cameron; Brown, Christopher; Burgess, Paul J.; Challinor, Andy; Cottrell, Andrew; Crocker, Thomas; George, Thomas; Godfray, Charles J.; Hails, Rosie S.; Ingram, John; Lang, Tim; Lyon, Fergus; Lusher, Simon; MacMillan, Tom; Newton, Sue; Pearson, Simon; Pritchard, Sue; Sanders, Dale; Sanderson Bellamy, Angelina; Steven, Megan; Trickett, Alastair; Voysey, Andrew; Watson, Christine; Whitby, Darren; Whiteside, Kerry. 2023 Scoping potential routes to UK civil unrest via the food system: results of a structured expert elicitation. Sustainability, 15 (20), 14783. 21, pp.

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We report the results of a structured expert elicitation to identify the most likely types of potential food system disruption scenarios for the UK, focusing on routes to civil unrest. We take a backcasting approach by defining as an end-point a societal event in which 1 in 2000 people have been injured in the UK, which 40% of experts rated as “Possible (20–50%)”, “More likely than not (50–80%)” or “Very likely (>80%)” over the coming decade. Over a timeframe of 50 years, this increased to 80% of experts. The experts considered two food system scenarios and ranked their plausibility of contributing to the given societal scenario. For a timescale of 10 years, the majority identified a food distribution problem as the most likely. Over a timescale of 50 years, the experts were more evenly split between the two scenarios, but over half thought the most likely route to civil unrest would be a lack of total food in the UK. However, the experts stressed that the various causes of food system disruption are interconnected and can create cascading risks, highlighting the importance of a systems approach. We encourage food system stakeholders to use these results in their risk planning and recommend future work to support prevention, preparedness, response and recovery planning.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2071-1050
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: food systems, global catastrophic risk, climate change, extreme weather, ecological collapse, scenarios, cascading risks
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
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Date made live: 10 Nov 2023 09:01 +0 (UTC)

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