Global food and water security in 2050: demographic change and increased demand

Diet Food security Nutrition Sustainable agricultural production Water security

The global population is expected to increase to almost ten billion by 2050. Global wealth is also expected to increase over the next 30 years and contribute to a shift in global diets that will see increased demand for meat and dairy products, which require a greater amount of crop and water resources to produce than other food products. The world has managed to increase agricultural production without significantly increasing agricultural land use before. It is likely to be difficult to do that again, particularly with the uncertainties of climate change and much of the world’s most productive agricultural land possibly already being utilised at close to its limit. Adopting agricultural technologies and methodologies, such as precision and regenerative agriculture, could ensure that any additional pressure on the natural environment is minimal.

Key points:

  • A larger global population, rising incomes and the global shift towards a “Western diet” are likely to be the main drivers of increased food and water demand in the years up to 2050.
  • Without sustainably intensifying food production and reducing food wastage, it is likely that agriculture will have a greater impact on the natural environment.
  • It is possible to feed the estimated population of about ten billion in 2050 using current agricultural techniques. That will probably require most people to accept radical dietary changes, however, which are unlikely to be popular.
  • The sustainable intensification of agricultural production, lifting food production in under-utilised regions, reducing food waste and adopting new technologies, such as precision agriculture, are likely to play a larger role in increasing the global food supply.
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