Over the next several decades, the world faces an historic challenge and opportunity at the nexus of food security, economic development and the environment. The world needs to be food secure. The world needs agriculture to contribute to inclusive economic development, and the world needs to reduce agriculture's impact on the environment.
This nexus has several implications for policymakers as they outline and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations in September 2015. Critically, this agenda has an explicit goal on food security. However, it is also important that the food security goal includes some sustainability targets and indicators.
This chapter examines the food security challenge to 2050, and lays out six core propositions related to food security and sustainability. With an eye to implications of the food security challenge for the sustainable development agenda, it then details three proposed food security targets that integrate sustainability. These targets include reducing the rate of food loss and waste, and achieving low-carbon agriculture and water-efficient food production (Table 16.1). Finally, the chapter offers some reflections on how these targets would help the world feed a growing population in a manner that alleviates poverty and advances economic development while reducing pressure on its natural resources.
The food security challenge
Over the next several decades, the world faces a grand challenge – and opportunity – at the nexus of food security, economic development and the environment.
First, the world needs to be food secure
The United Nations Population Division projects the global human population to grow from 7 billion in 2012 to 9.7 billion by 2050 (UN DESA, 2015). Half of the population growth will be in sub- Saharan Africa (UN DESA, 2015), where agricultural productivity and soil quality is exceptionally low and where reliance on imports of basic staples is already high. Moreover, at least 3 billion people are likely to enter the global middle class by 2030, and they will almost certainly demand more resource-intensive foods such as meats and vegetable oils (Foresight, 2011). At the same time, approximately 795 million of the world's poorest people remain undernourished even today (FAO, IFAD and WFP, 2015).