World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future

World Resources Report
A Menu of Solutions to Feed Nearly 10 Billion People by 2050
Can we feed the world without destroying the planet?
The ‘World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future’ shows that it is possible – but there is no silver bullet.
The report offers a five-course menu of solutions to ensure we can feed 10 billion people by 2050 without increasing emissions, fueling deforestation or exacerbating poverty. Intensive research and modeling examining the nexus of the food system, economic development, and the environment show why each of the 22 items on the menu is important and quantifies how far each solution can get us. This site presents text from the Synthesis Report, with download links to full chapters from the complete report.
{"Glossary":[{"name":"Deforestation","description":"\u003Cp\u003EDeforestation is the change from forest to another land cover, such as agriculture or urban area.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Natural forest","description":"\u003Cp\u003ENatural forest includes primary and secondary forest that is grown without human intervention.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Trees outside forests","description":"\u003Cp\u003ETrees found in urban areas, alongside roads, or within agricultural land are often referred to as Trees Outside Forests (TOF).\u0026nbsp;\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Tree cover loss","description":"\u003Cp\u003ETree cover loss is the removal or mortality of tree cover and can be due to a variety of factors, including mechanical harvesting, fire, disease, or storm damage. As such, \u201closs\u201d does not equate to deforestation.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Tree cover","description":"\u003Cp\u003ETree cover is all vegetation greater than five meters in height and make take the form of natural forests or plantations across a range of canopy densities.\u0026nbsp;Unless otherwise specified, the GFR uses greater than 30 percent tree canopy density for calculations.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Short tree height","description":"\u003Cp\u003ELess than 5 meters.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Primary forest","description":"\u003Cp\u003EOld-growth forests that are typically high in carbon stock and rich in biodiversity. The Global Forest Review uses a humid tropical primary rainforest dataset, representing forests in the humid tropics that have not been cleared in recent years.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Planted forest","description":"\u003Cp\u003EPlanted forests are comprised of trees that have been deliberately planted and\/or seeded by humans.\u0026nbsp;\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Persistent loss and gain","description":"\u003Cp\u003EForests that have experienced one loss or one gain event from 2001-2016).\u0026nbsp;\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Mosaic restoration","description":"\u003Cp\u003EMosaic restoration integrates trees into mixed-use landscapes, such as agricultural lands and settlements, where trees can support people through improved water quality, increased soil fertility, and other ecosystem services. This type of restoration is more likely in deforested or degraded forest landscapes with moderate population density (10 - 100 people\/km2).\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Forest","description":"\u003Cp\u003EForests include tree cover greater than 30 percent tree canopy density and greater than five meters in height as mapped at a 30-meter Landsat pixel scale.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Low tree canopy density","description":"\u003Cp\u003ELow tree canopy density is\u0026nbsp;less than 30 percent tree canopy density.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Loss driver","description":"\u003Cp\u003ELoss driver is the direct cause of forest disturbance.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Intact forests","description":"\u003Cp\u003EIntact forests contain no signs of human activity or habitat fragmentation as determined by remote sensing images and are large enough to maintain all native biological biodiversity.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Hectare","description":"\u003Cp\u003EOne hectare is 0.01 square kilometers (e.g., 100m x 100m) and about the size of a rugby field. A football pitch is slightly smaller than a hectare (they are between 0.62 and 0.82 hectares).\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Forest management plan","description":"\u003Cp\u003EForest management plan documents the stewardship and use of forests and other wooded land to meet environmental, economic, social and cultural objectives.\u0026nbsp;They are typically implemented by companies in forest concessions.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Forest fragmentation","description":"\u003Cp\u003EForest fragmentation is the breaking of large, contiguous forests into smaller pieces, with other land cover types interspersed.\u0026nbsp;\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Forest degradation","description":"\u003Cp\u003EForest degradation is the reduction in a forest\u2019s ability to perform ecosystem services, such as carbon storage and water regulation, due to natural and anthropogenic changes.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Forest concession","description":"\u003Cp\u003EForest concession is a legal agreement allowing an\u003Cstrong\u003E\u0026nbsp;\u003C\/strong\u003Eentity the right to manage a public forest for production purposes.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"},{"name":"Wide-scale restoration","description":"\u003Cp\u003EWide-scale restoration restores large, closed forest areas in the landscape.\u003C\/p\u003E\r\n"}]}
As the global population grows from 7 billion in 2010 to a projected 9.8 billion in 2050, and incomes grow across the developing world, overall food demand is on course to increase by more than 50 percent, and demand for animal-based foods by nearly 70 percent. Yet today, hundreds of millions of people remain hungry, agriculture already uses almost half of the world’s vegetated land, and agriculture and related land-use change generate one-quarter of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Menu for a Sustainable Food Future
  • Course 1: Reduce Growth in Demand for Food and Other Agricultural Products (Synthesis)
    The size of the food challenge—and the associated environmental and economic challenges—depends on the scale of the increase in demand for crops and animal-based foods by midcentury. The food, land, and GHG mitigation gaps are derived from reasonable estimates of business-as-usual growth in demand for crops and livestock. Yet such levels of growth are not inevitable. Course 1 menu items explore ways to reduce this projected growth in socially and economically beneficial ways.
  • Course 2: Increase Food Production Without Expanding Agricultural Land (Synthesis)
    In addition to the demand-reduction measures addressed in Course 1, the world must boost the output of food on existing agricultural land. To approach the goal of net-zero expansion of agricultural land, under realistic scenarios, improvements in crop and pasture productivity must exceed historical rates of yield gains.
  • Course 3: Protect and Restore Natural Ecosystems and Limit Agricultural Land-Shifting (Synthesis)
    This course focuses on the land-management efforts that must complement food demand-reduction efforts and productivity gains to avoid the harms of agricultural land expansion. One guiding principle is the need to make land-use decisions that enhance efficiency for all purposes—not just agriculture but also carbon storage and other ecosystem services. Another principle is the need to explicitly link efforts to boost agricultural yield gains with protection of natural lands.
  • Course 4: Increase Fish Supply (Synthesis)
    Fish, including finfish and shellfish, provide only small percentages of total global calories and protein, but they contribute 17 percent of animal-based protein, and are particularly important for more than 3 billion people in developing countries. We project fish consumption to rise 58 percent between 2010 and 2050, but the wild fish catch peaked at 94 million tons in the mid-1990s and has since stagnated or perhaps declined. This course proposes ways to improve wild fisheries management and raise the productivity and environmental performance of aquaculture.
  • Course 5: Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agricultural Production (Synthesis)
    Agricultural production emissions arise from livestock farming, application of nitrogen fertilizers, rice cultivation, and energy use. These production processes are traditionally regarded as hard to control. In general, our estimates of mitigation potential in this course are more optimistic than others’, partly because many analyses have not fully captured the opportunities for productivity gains and partly because we factor in promising potential for technological innovations.
  • Scope of the Challenge and Menu of Possible Solutions (Synthesis)
    This World Resources Report addresses a fundamental question: How can the world adequately feed nearly 10 billion people by the year 2050 in ways that help combat poverty, allow the world to meet climate goals, and reduce pressures on the broader environment?
  • Cross-Cutting Policies for a Sustainable Food Future (Synthesis)
    The menu items for a sustainable food future, described and analyzed in our five courses, focus heavily on technical opportunities. However, menu items cannot be implemented in isolation, and they are all subject to a variety of cross-cutting public and private policies.