With the world’s population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, a major new report shows the global food system must undergo urgent change to ensure there is adequate food for everyone without destroying the planet.
The World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future reveals that meeting this challenge will require closing three gaps: a 56% “food gap” between what was produced in 2010 and food that will be needed in 2050; a nearly 600 million-hectare “land gap” (an area nearly twice the size of India) between global agricultural land area in 2010 and expected agricultural expansion by 2050; and an 11-gigaton “greenhouse gas mitigation gap” between expected emissions from agriculture in 2050 and the level needed to meet the Paris Agreement.
To close the gaps, the report urges significant adjustments in the production of food as well as changes in people’s consumption. From wild fisheries management to how much beef to eat, the report gives policymakers, businesses and researchers a comprehensive roadmap for how to create a sustainable food system from farm to plate.
Produced by World Resources Institute in partnership with the World Bank, UN Environment, UN Development Programme, and the French agricultural research agencies CIRAD and INRA, the report outlines a menu of solutions to overhaul the way the world produces and consumes food to ensure a sustainable food system by 2050:
1. Reduce growth in demand by cutting food loss and waste, eating healthier diets, and more;
2. Increase food production without expanding agricultural land area via yield gains for both crops and livestock;
3. Protect and restore natural ecosystems by reducing deforestation, restoring peatlands, and linking yield gains with ecosystem conservation;
4. Increase fish supply by improving aquaculture systems and better managing wild fisheries; and
5. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production through innovative technologies and farming methods.
Many of the report’s findings use the new GlobAgri-WRR model, which quantifies how far each “menu item” can help to increase the availability of food, avoid deforestation, and reduce GHG emissions.
Shifting consumption patterns, increasing the productivity of crops and livestock, and improving the efficiency of inputs like fertilizers can significantly reduce emissions and the demand for land while raising agricultural incomes.