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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Will our global food system be able to feed nine billion people without destroying sensitive ecosystems or social coherence? Can agricultural productivity keep apace with rapidly increasing demand while faced with significant and unpredictable challenges such as climate change, livestock diseases and other factors which escalate production costs? Will farming be a profitable business in the coming decades, helping rural areas to develop and maintain their role within economies and livelihoods? Such fundamental questions are pivotal to any discussion of the future of agricultural markets and the food system. However, the numerous uncertain and changing factors which surround these concerns can pose immense challenges for the development of effective policy and industry strategies to address them.

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