Food security, farming, and climate change to 2050

Scenarios, results, policy options

As the global population grows and incomes in poor countries rise, so too, will the demand for food, placing additional pressure on sustainable food production. Climate change adds a further challenge, as changes in temperature and precipitation threaten agricultural productivity and the capacity to feed the world’s population. This study assesses how serious the danger to food security might be and suggests some steps policymakers can take to remedy the situation.

Using various modeling techniques, the authors project 15 different future scenarios for food security through 2050. Each scenario involves an alternative combination of potential population and income growth and climate change. The authors also examine the specific test case of a hypothetical extended drought in South Asia, to demonstrate the possible effects of increased climate variability on a particular world region. They conclude that the negative effects of climate change on food security can be counteracted by broad-based economic growth—particularly improved agricultural productivity—and robust international trade in agricultural products to offset regional shortages. In pursuit of these goals, policymakers should increase public investment in land, water, and nutrient use and maintain relatively free international trade. This inquiry into the future of food security should be of use to policymakers and others concerned with the impact of climate change on international development.

Author: 
Nelson, Gerald C.
Rosegrant, Mark W.
Palazzo, Amanda
Gray, Ian
Ingersoll, Christina
Robertson, Richard
Tokgoz, Simla
Zhu, Tingju
Sulser, Timothy B.
Ringler, Claudia
Msangi, Siwa
You, Liangzhi
Published date: 
2010
Publisher: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
PDF file: 
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rr172.pdf(13.5MB)