The World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future

The world’s population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050. With this projection in mind, a new report outlines a 5-course ‘Menu of Solutions’ to achieve a sustainable food future.

The global food system must undergo urgent change to ensure there is adequate food for everyone without destroying the planet, according to The World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future published mid-July 2019. The report was produced by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in partnership with the World Bank, UN Environment (UNEP), UN Development Programme (UNDP), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA).

The report reveals that meeting the challenge of a growing world population will require closing three gaps: 

  • a 56 per cent “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 the global agricultural land area in 2010 and expected agricultural expansion by 2050;
  • 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.

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:

  • Reduce growth in demand by cutting food loss and waste, eating healthier diets, and more;
  • Increase food production without expanding agricultural land area via yield gains for both crops and livestock;
  • Protect and restore natural ecosystems by reducing deforestation, restoring peatlands, and linking yield gains with ecosystem conservation;
  • Increase fish supply by improving aquaculture systems and better managing wild fisheries;
  • 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 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The report also identifies a robust series of policies, innovations, and incentives that can take the solutions to scale.

Shifting consumption patterns, increasing the productivity of crops and livestock, and improving the efficiency of inputs like fertilisers can significantly reduce emissions and the demand for land while raising agricultural incomes. To hold global warming below a 1.5°C increase above pre-industrial levels would require doing this and  everything else on the five-course menu of solutions, plus reforesting more than 585 million hectares (1.4 billion acres) made available by these demand- and supply-side efficiency gains, according to the report.

(UNEP/ile)

More information and download the report The World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future: https://wrr-food.wri.org/