Meeting the food demand of a rapidly growing population in an environmentally sustainable manner is a pressing global challenge. This challenge is especially paramount in countries with high population densities and fast-growing economies, such as China. Available land and water resources are under pressure to meet both the rapidly increasing and changing demand for healthy and safe food from its growing urban population and the fast-growing demand from sectors outside the food economy.
Ensuring sustainable natural resources management in agricultural development requires an integrated ‘water, land and food nexus’ approach, which takes potential synergies and trade-offs into account. State-of-the art knowledge about the institutions, policies and markets governing environmental pollution, natural resource use and food supply chains, as well as the underlying processes contributing to changing land, water and food availability and quality, is crucial for the successful adoption of such a water, land and food nexus approach. However, to achieve sustainable agricultural development, there are still major hurdles in front of both the academic researchers, policymakers and other involved stakeholders.
By forming a sustainable alliance of leading Dutch and Chinese researchers carrying out joint-interdisciplinary research in both China and other developing countries, the objective of the SURE+ Center of Expertise is to provide scientific evidence-based research to promote sustainable use of natural resources and the environment in agriculture and food provision in both China and other parts of the world.
To fulfill our goal, the SURE+ Center of Expertise has developed two unique approaches in conducting our research: (1)a nexus approach, and (2) evidence-based action research. A nexus approach indicates that our research should be interdisciplinary and inclusive, where different disciplinaries and stakeholders should be involved and developed. While evidence-based action research shows that it is no more enough to just tell what the problems are, but also how to solve the problem. Our research should be innovative problem-solving, and action should be taken in the field.