A menu of solutions to feed nearly 10 billion people by 2050

Written by
Keely Swan
Keely Swan, Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment
Sept. 30, 2019

As the global population grows to a projected 9.8 billion in 2050, overall food demand is on course to increase by more than 50%, and demand for animal-based foods by nearly 70%. Yet today, world hunger remains entrenched while agriculture already uses almost half of the world’s vegetated land and generates one-quarter of annual greenhouse gas emissions.

The world thus faces a looming and critical question: How to increase food production while addressing climate change and protecting biodiversity? An extensive report led by Princeton University and World Resource Institute research scholar Timothy Searchinger attempts to answer this question with a “menu” of 22 strategies that can be deployed to protect the environment while feeding the world.

The report focuses on narrowing three key gaps: the “food gap” or the difference between recent production and projected demand in 2050; the “land gap” or the difference between recent agricultural land areas and the 2050 needs; and the “greenhouse gas mitigation gap”, or the difference between likely agriculture emissions and target emissions for the sector to keep global warming within agreed limits. The authors quantify the expected benefits of their proposed strategies to analyze how these actions could close the gaps and achieve a sustainable food future.

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