Alternative Futures for Global Food and Agriculture

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We face the challenges of developing a global food system that will feed a growing and more affluent population while preserving sensitive ecosystems, competing for limited natural resources, increasing agricultural productivity growth while mitigating and adapting to climate change and other threats, and contributing to rural area well-being.

This report develops three contrasting scenarios to illustrate alternative futures, based on several global economic models and extensive discussions with relevant stakeholders, and outlines policy considerations to help ensure that future needs are met in an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable manner.  The scenarios highlight the fundamental uncertainties surrounding forward-oriented decision making, and point to the crucial importance of international co-operation across multiple policy areas.

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Executive summary

The global food system faces numerous challenges which will shape developments towards 2050. Feeding – and indeed nourishing – a growing, more affluent and increasingly demanding population while preserving sensitive ecosystems; increasing agricultural productivity growth while both adapting to and mitigating climate change and other threats; competing for access to increasingly limited land, water and other natural resources; and contributing to rural area well-being, to name just a few. Nevertheless, the future is not necessarily bleak, as beyond this daunting list of challenges lie crucial opportunities which should not be overlooked.

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