By the year 2050, Earth is on track to be home to 10 billion people—and our already-stressed agricultural system is going to have to undergo serious change in order to feed everyone without accelerating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, polluting land and water or worsening poverty.
The solution, says a just-launched report compiled by the World Resources Institute, The World Bank, United Nations Development Programme and more, hinges on the ability of farmers, stakeholders, governments, businesses and consumers to close three essential “gaps” by 2050: The food gap between how many calories are produced and the amount we must create, the land gap between how many acres are currently in food production and the amount we’ll need adjusting for increased yields and the GHG gap, which underscores the vast carbon dioxide and methane emissions that must be reduced.
The World Resources Institute outlined five buckets or “courses” of action that will provide meaningful solutions. These actions, cautions the report, will only work if they’re “implemented in time, at scale, and with sufficient public and private sector dedication.”
The five actions include:
- Reducing growth in demand for food and other agricultural products in part by reducing ruminant meat consumption and food waste.
- Increasing food production without expanding agricultural land.
- Protecting and restoring natural ecosystems and limiting agricultural land-shifting via reforestation and peatland conservation.
- Increasing fish supply through improving wild fisheries management and increasing aquaculture.
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production.
The report is chock-full of necessary actions that can help us realistically feed 10 billion people without using more land while lowering emissions. It’s worth a read, but this quick infographic provides a breakdown of the WRI’s goal.