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M2 Internship: Characterizing the metabolism of French agricultural sectors (national and regional scales): a fund/flow analysis

About Inria and the STEEP team

Inria is the national research institute dedicated to digital sciences and technologies. It employs 2600
people. The STEEP team is an interdisciplinary research team of the Inria center in Grenoble dedicated to sustainability issues at national and sub-national scales.
Context SCALABLE is a research project funded by ADEME, which associates LESSEM (INRAE Grenoble), the STEEP team of Inria Grenoble, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Énergie Environnement, the company TerriFlux and Grenoble Alpes Métropole, representing all members of the inter-territorial food project "de la grande région grenobloise". SCALABLE is interested in the metabolic vulnerabilities associated with the functioning of agricultural sectors at different territorial scales (national, regional, local): to what extent are the needs of the population being met in a sustainable manner, and without transferring vulnerabilities to other territories? The project will ultimately contribute to the debate on the relevant scales of relocation of the various links in the value chains.

Conceptual framework of the internship

Socio-economic metabolism refers to the self-reproduction and evolution of the biophysical structures of human societies. It includes the processes of extraction, transformation and distribution of biophysical flows that are controlled by humans. The biophysical structures of societies (the "stocks") together with metabolism (the "flows") form the biophysical basis of the economy (Pauliuk and Hertwich, 2015). These flows have grown exponentially since the mid-20th century and are now endangering the conditions for human life on Earth (Steffen et al., 2015). Research on the metabolism of societies is unfolding to account for the inscription of the economy in its biophysical substrate and within planetary boundaries. Among these, the Musiasem framework (Giampietro et al., 2009) aims at a multi-level analysis of metabolism, based on the fund-flow model developed by the economist N. Geogescu-Roegen. The fund/flow model allows to distinguish the elements of a system that are transformed during a given period (the flows) from those that remain "identical" (the funds). Flows (e.g. agricultural production) come from funds (agricultural areas, farmers, etc.) and can only occur at a certain rate, characteristic of each fund. Sustainability can be conceived as the capacity of a system to preserve (reproduce) its funds over time.