World Resources Report 2013-2015: Creating a Sustainable Food Future

9 April 2015. Brussels. Lunch-time Conference External Cooperation Infopoint.

Introduction: Mr Jean Pierre Halkin Head of Unit, DEVCO C1 – Rural Development, Food and Nutrition Security 
Presentation: Mr Timothy D. Searchinger Senior fellow of World Resources Institute and research scholar at Princeton. Down load the Power Point Presentation (in PDF format) here.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) dedicates its next flagship World Resources Report (WRR), Creating a Sustainable Food Future, to exploring how we can achieve the “Great Balancing Act.” They have rolled out a series of working papers that sets the foundation for and culminate in the World Resources Report 2013-2015: Creating a Sustainable Food Future.

Each installment of the WRR takes a detailed look at a potential solution that could help achieve a sustainable food future, creating a “menu” of practical, scalable strategies. Some menu items reduce projected growth in consumption, such as decreasing food loss and waste.

Other menu items increase food production, such as restoring degraded lands back into agricultural productivity. No item on the menu can achieve a sustainable food future by itself, and the relevance of items will vary between countries and food chains. But the combination of solutions should help feed the world while contributing to poverty reduction, gender equity, ecosystem conservation, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and sustainable freshwater management.

The world is on a course to need 70% or more crops, wood and milk and meat from grazing land – and some advocate devoting large land areas to bioenergy – even as the world also needs to protect natural ecosystems and their carbon and reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

A series of reports by the World Resources Institute explores how that might be possible:

  1. Installment 9: Avoiding Bioenergy Competition for Food Crops and Land shows that any dedicated use of land for growing bioenergy inherently comes at the cost of not using that land for growing food or animal feed, or for storing carbon. It recommends several policy changes to phase out forms of bioenergy that use crops or that otherwise make dedicated use of land.
  2. Installment 8 : Wetting and Drying: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Saving Water from Rice Production explores the potential to improve water management in rice production. 
  3. Installment 7: Crop Breeding: Renewing the Global Commitment explores improvements in crop breeding that have the potential to boost yields.
  4. Installment 6: Indicators of Sustainable Agriculture: A Scoping Analysis explores the methods and analysis of a scoping exercise to identify a preliminary list of indicators.
  5. Installment 5: Improving Productivity and Environmental Performance of Aquaculture explores the potential role of aquaculture in meeting global fish demand in 2050
  6. Installment 4 : Improving Land and Water Management examines the role of four improved land and water management practices.
  7. Installment 3 : Achieving Replacement Level Fertility. This paper examines the nature of the population challenge globally and the effect of population growth on food demand in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  8. Installment 2 : Reducing Food Loss and Waste. This paper examines the implications of this amount of loss and waste, profiles a number of approaches for reducing it, and puts forth five recommendations for how to move forward on this issue.
  9. Installment 1 : The Great Balancing Act. How can the world adequately feed more than 9 billion people by 2050 in a manner that advances economic development and reduces pressure on the environment?

Dr Tim Searchinger spoke at the 3rd Global Conference on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition 3 – 5 December 2013 / Johannesburg, South Africa

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