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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Policy and implementation strategies for the future of food and agriculture

In spite of the uncertainties which surround the future of food and agricultural systems, there is clarity in one respect: the choices made by policy makers, businesses and consumers today will be pivotal in determining the extent to which global food and agriculture systems will be impacted by the challenges discussed in the previous chapters. This chapter identifies and discusses five key strategies for action by public actors – and indeed other stakeholders, where relevant: i) accelerated movement towards more sustainable lifestyles and consumption patterns, ii) increased coherence of food market regulations, iii) sustainable productivity growth and climate resilience, iv) strengthened infrastructure, and v) improved and broadened risk management systems. The majority of these would enable the management of risks and seizing of opportunities across different scenarios with no or limited side-effects, even if the magnitude of the benefits may vary.

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