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

Jones, A, Bridle, S, Denby, K, Bhunnoo, R, Morton, D, Stanbrough, L, Coupe, B, Et, al. and MacMillan, Tom (2023) Scoping potential routes to UK civil unrest via the food system: results of a structured expert elicitation. Sustainability, 15 (20). p. 14783. ISSN 2071-1050

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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 2,000 people have been injured in the UK, which 40% of experts rated as “Possible (20–50%)” or “More likely than not (50–80%)” or “Very likely (>80%)” over the coming decade. Over a longer timeframe of 50 years, nearly 80% of experts rated such an event as “Possible (20–50%)” or “More likely than not (50–80%)” or “Very likely (>80%)”. 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. Overall, in the next 50 years, 45% of participants said there is a greater than 20% chance of civil unrest due to insufficient food in the UK due to extreme weather or ecological collapse. However, the experts stressed that the various causes are interconnected, can create cascading risks and highlighted 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: Article
Keywords: food systems, global catastrophic risk, climate change, extreme weather, ecological collapse, scenarios, cascading risks
Divisions: Agriculture, Food and Environment
Depositing User: Professor Tom MacMillan
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2023 12:43
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2023 12:43

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