Sustainable Food Systems: Why Land and Water and Resource Management Matter for Food Security
Current projections indicate that the world population will increase from 6.9 billion people today to 9.1 billion in 2050. Changing dietary and consumption patterns and increased land use change are also placing increased pressure on natural assets from which agriculture productivity depends. In addition, economic progress, notably in the emerging countries, translates into increased demand for food and diversified diets. World food demand will surge as a result, and it is projected that food production will increase by 70 percent in the world and by 100 percent in the developing countries. Yet both land and water resources, the basis of our food production, are finite and already under heavy stress, and future agricultural production will need to be more productive and more sustainable at the same time.
Climate change brings added challenges to achieving global food security and the long-term sustainability of food production systems. Small-holder farmers, pastoralists and fishing communities in the least developed countries are among those most vulnerable to climate change, as their production systems often lack the resources to manage an effective response to climate threats. Increasing the adoption and sustained use of crop, livestock, and mixed farming system practices that help land users combat and adapt to climate change is critical for improving food security.
Responding to these challenges requires a transformation of existing agriculture practices that reduced pressures on natural ecosystems the services and the services they provided. Prompt action on climate mitigation and adaptation aligned with sustainable land management and sustainable development could reduce the risk to millions of people from climate extremes, desertification, land degradation and food and livelihood insecurity.
This month’s Agrilinks series is focused on the increasingly pertinent challenge of meeting our food security needs while limiting environmental impacts and building resilience against environmental changes. The series will highlight emerging evidence and provide examples from the field on improved and more sustainable program design across the entire food system, from production to consumption. We will explore the emerging evidence and explore the value added of adopting a sustainable food system approach that delivers food security and nutrition in such a way that enhances and restores natural resources and sustains rural and urban livelihoods while providing access to nutrition foods for future generations that is not compromised.