What we do

FABLE builds local capacity to model complex food and land-use systems and to support the development of national pathways that are consistent with global objectives, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement targets, and can inform national policy commitments, particularly on climate and biodiversity.

The Challenge

There is an urgent need for countries to transition their national food and land-use systems toward food and nutritional security, climate stability, and environmental integrity. The global food system uses more than half of the world’s total land cover, accounts for 70% of freshwater withdrawals and for a third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions and is a major cause of biodiversity loss.

Through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, governments made commitments to make progress toward greater sustainability. Countries must jointly deliver the required transformative change to achieve global sustainability targets, while meeting national demands.

Yet changing practices in food and land use systems is challenging. These systems are deeply embedded in local biophysical, cultural, historical, and socio-economic conditions. Their complex dynamic interactions make progress slow, and often, limited.

FABLE mobilizes national knowledge institutions that fosters problem-solving through 'Scenathons', co-development of common open tools, stakeholder engagement, and policy learning between countries.

The FABLE Consortium focuses on four streams of work:

1. Definition of global sustainability targets for food and land-use systems

We need global benchmarks to ensure that the sum of national and regional pathways meets sustainable development objectives. These targets help us determine whether we are on the right track in the sustainability transition, or if more action is needed.

The FABLE Consortium builds consensus on quantitative targets based on scientific literature and global policy commitments that guide the definition of sustainable national and global pathways. We focus on global targets across five critical food and land use system domains: land and biodiversity, climate change, food and nutritional security, freshwater use, and nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

2. Development of long-term national pathways

FABLE develops integrated, long-term pathways that describe the food and land-use systems changes needed to achieve mid-century climate and sustainability objectives at the national level. We define pathways as a combination of scenarios that represents the coherent development of a system along a certain trajectory.

Pathways show how food and land-use systems can contribute to meeting global long-term goals, such as the SDGs, the Paris Agreement climate mitigation targets, and the Convention on Biological Diversity global objectives, while also addressing national and short-term priorities. These pathways can illustrate the impacts and spillover effects that certain courses of action can have at the global level, and in other countries.

3. Capacity enhancement to model sustainable food and land-use systems

Many countries lack the expertise to model the impacts of policies using an integrated approach to food and land use and make limited use of models for decision-making. FABLE strengthens local capacity to operate integrated models, including MAgPIE and GLOBIOM, and the FABLE Calculator, a simplified tool to model food and land-use systems tailored to the local context.

FABLE’s network provides local researchers with stronger skills of programming, extended knowledge on modelling mechanisms for food and land systems, locating and processing the best data available, and representing local policies using modelling tools. Importantly, it empowers local scientists to work closer with policymakers in their countries.

4. Building a coherent policy approach to food and land-use systems

FABLE links the global ambition with national priorities in food and land-use and the international agricultural trade dynamics. This bottom-up approach can help policymakers identify gaps quickly between the envisaged measures set out in strategic national policy documents and the realization of global objectives. It can support future climate and biodiversity negotiations and ensure policy coherence across the critical dimensions of the food and land-use system.

With the FABLE approach, policymakers and scientists can ensure consistency across climate and biodiversity national action plans, such as the UNFCCC Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), long-term low greenhouse gas emissions strategies (LT-LEDS), the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), and Forest Reference Emission Levels (FREL) for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) in developing countries.