3460 How Can the World Feed 9 Billion People by 2050 Sustainably and Equitably?

Sunday, February 20, 2011: 3:00 PM
209ABC (Washington Convention Center )
Charles Godfray , Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom
The UK's Government Chief Scientist, Professor Sir John Beddington, was among the first to warn of a "Perfect Storm" of human induced crises coming together to put pressure on the global food system. He commissioned an international study by the UK Government Office of Science's Foresight team: "Food and Farming Futures". The report, a comprehensive assessment of the problem, uses evidence from the natural and social sciences to assess policy responses. The talk draws on the report to discuss options for the multifaceted and linked global strategies needed now to ensure sustainable and equitable food security. 

The next 40 years will see diverse drivers of change converge on the global food system, creating unprecedented challenges: the global population will increase to the greatest it has ever been in human history; growth in demand for energy and water will constrain their availability for agriculture; climate change will reach new levels; and rising incomes will amplify food demand in low and middle income economies, particularly for meat and dairy products. Over 300 scientists and stakeholders from 35 countries have helped identify the critical choices that policy makers and the research community need to take now and in the decades ahead, to ensure that a global population rising to 9 billion or more can be fed sustainably and equitably.

New perspectives on 5 future challenges will be presented: balancing future demand and production sustainably; meeting the challenges of a low emissions world; addressing hunger; maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services while feeding the world; and addressing the threat of future volatility.

The food system is set to grow substantially over the next 40 years. There is now an urgent need for a step change in its governance. Food and farming needs to be better linked to climate change mitigation, and competition for energy, water and land. Failure to achieve these aims will not only jeopardise future food security and any prospects of feeding the hungry, but raise tensions - affecting economic development and business, and threatening security through increasing conflict and the potential for failed states. The goal is no longer simply to maximize productivity, but to optimize outcomes across a far more complex landscape of production, and environmental, and social justice outcomes.

(Abstract written by the UK Government Office of Science's Foresight team)

Previous Presentation | Next Presentation >>