Food for 2050: Why the UN is Worried We Won’t have enough

Ed note. I’m pleased to welcome to the site Chandler Clay, a recent graduate of American University’s master’s program in journalism and public affairs who specializes in environmental reporting.

“Business as usual” is not an option.

That was the thrust of the United Nation’s latest World Economic and Social Survey, which determined that global food production must double by 2050 to feed the anticipated 9 billion people that will graze the Earth.

The report found that one billion people are already undernourished across the globe, pointing to recent food crises as evidence of the need for a “radically new economic strategy.” Economics played a central role in the U.N. report, suggesting that both global climate change and global economies are together a concern, but can together be resolved. Investments in small-scale local farms, the report says, are the solution.

So what does this mean for farmers from Arkansas to Africa?

All across the world food producers will require support from both government and private investors. The survey suggested a minimum of $1.9 trillion a year would be required to feed the ever-increasing global population. That’s equivalent to roughly 3 percent of the total global economic output. The mission is to eradicate hunger without sacrificing the environment.

It’s a lofty goal, and one that everyone from policymakers to rock stars has fought valiantly to achieve. But the reality is bleak.

Only a fraction of the investment goal has been reached thus far with $20 billion in climate change funds aimed at bringing clean energy farming technology and sustainable agricultural practices to developing countries. The report suggests that governments must play a leading role in the effort if a dramatic increase in global food production is to be had.

While many European countries have in the past been united in their approach to strong food and climate policy, other regions of the world must move towards the dilemmas of the global food system with willingness to participate, whether by offering assistance, designing policies or employing new methods.

Nations across the globe must change the business of food production so that sustainable, small-scale farming methods can become the usual. Otherwise, we will have no choice but to witness the tragedy that ensues when supply does not equal demand, and climate change devastates the land.