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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Overview of main challenges and opportunities in food and agriculture

A large number of challenges to the future of agriculture have been identified within the OECD work on Long-Term Scenarios for Food and Agriculture. This chapter explores the following seven challenges in further depth within the context of the three long-term scenarios: i) food and nutrition security, ii) economic sustainability of farming; iii) biodiversity and scarcity of natural resources; iv) agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution; v) diets and nutrition; vi) trans-boundary livestock diseases and vii) food safety. While the three “worlds” of Individual, Fossil Fuel-Driven Growth, of Citizen-Driven, Sustainable Growth and of Fast, Globally-Driven Growth all present common risks, such as those related to the environment, their magnitude varies substantially between scenarios. The performance of each of these scenarios is compared in order to facilitate the identification of strategies to manage risks and avail of future opportunities, which will be discussed in Chapter 3.

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