Food is a Precious and Vital Resource of Our Ecosystems on Which All Life Itself is Based.


The effects of climate change on crop and food production are already evident in several regions of the world. A briefing from the University of Cambridge based on the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report explores the specific trends that will affect the agricultural sector.



Recent investments in roads and ports expedite the movement of food from drought- or flood-afflicted areas to unaffected areas. New technology and improvements in processing and storing food will also help to even out year-to-year fluctuations in food supply and demand.



Global food system largely depends on relatively few critical shipment and distribution points. Fourteen of the most important shipment and distribution points were identified as vulnerable to climate change impacts, such as sea level rise and more frequent and intense storms.

Eneref Water Initiative

Here’s how people responded to food solutions.


The global food system’s environmental impact is large and growing. Nearly a quarter of all planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions come from food production and associated land-use change. And as incomes rise and more people move to cities, consumption of meat and dairy – foods with outsized climate impacts – is on the rise.

The world population is expected to approach 10 billion people by 2050. With this projected increase in population and shifts to higher-meat diets, agriculture alone could account for the majority of the emissions budget for limiting global warming below 2°C (3.6°F). This level of agricultural emissions would render the goal of keeping warming below 1.5°C (2.7°F) impossible.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of the world’s foremost climate scientists, laid out in a report released last week the dangers of breaching the 1.5°C and 2°C temperature thresholds. The relationship between food production and climate change is a two-way street: With 2°C of warming, seas will rise by nearly half a meter, rainfall patterns will change, crop yields in the tropics will decrease, and harvests from marine fisheries will decline. The world will still face serious climate impacts with 1.5°C of warming, but significantly less so than with 2°C [source].

Climate Change

The world is projected to hold nearly 10 billion people by 2050. Sustainably feeding this exploding population requires meeting three great needs simultaneously.

According to WRI research, the world will have to close a gap of 56 percent between the amount of food available today and that required by 2050. It must reduce agriculture’s impact on climate, ecosystems, and water. And it needs to ensure that agriculture supports inclusive economic and social development. [source]

Climate-related impacts are already reducing crop yields in some parts of the world, a trend that is projected to continue as temperatures rise further. Crops affected include staples such as wheat, maize and rice. Climate change is projected to increase price volatility for agricultural commodities, and reduce food quality. [source]

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture comprised about 10–12% of man-made GHG emissions in 2010. The sector is the largest contributor of non-carbon dioxide (non-CO2) GHGs such as methane.

The potential for reducing GHG emissions from agriculture through changes in consumption could be substantially higher than technical mitigation options. Approaches include reducing food waste, changing diets towards less GHG-intensive food (e.g. substitution of animal products with plant-based food), and reducing over-consumption in regions where this is prevalent. [source]

  1. When will we run out of food?

    There is a big shortfall between the amount of food we produce today and the amount needed to feed everyone in 2050. There will be nearly 10 billion people on Earth by 2050—about 3 billion more mouths to feed than there were in 2010. As incomes rise, people will increasingly consume more resource-intensive, animal-based foods. At the same time, we urgently need to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agricultural production and stop conversion of remaining forests to agricultural land. [source]

  2. High meet consumption increases 20 times more emissions than beans.

    Limiting the global rise in meat consumption – in particular, beef, lamb and goat – is critical for reining in runaway warming. Ruminant meats have the highest resource requirements of any of the foods we eat. Producing beef, for example, uses 20 times the land and emits 20 times the emissions as producing beans, per gram of protein. Researchers have shown that even when accounting for future improvements in agriculture and reductions in food waste, shifting the diets of higher-income consumers toward plant-based foods remains essential for meeting climate targets. [source]

  3. How to Shift Diets Toward Planet-Friendly Alternatives?

    UCSF Health is integrating more plants into its dishes though its “Roots and Shoots” concept, offering visitors, patients and staff a choice of five plant-based items with a side half-sandwich at a more affordable price. It’s also made a beef-mushroom blended burger the standard for patient dining, retail food service and catering.

    Sodexo is a supporter of the Cool Food Pledge and is helping promote its activities with the dining facilities it serves. The company has just rolled out 200 new plant-based and plant-rich recipes, including dishes like a madras-spiced burger made from a 75/25 beef-mushroom mix, and fully plant-based options like carrot osso buco and kung pao cauliflower. [source]

  4. Reduce food loss and waste.

    Approximately one-quarter of food produced for human consumption goes uneaten. Loss and waste occurs all along the food chain, from field to fork. Reducing food loss and waste by 25 percent by 2050 would close the food gap by 12 percent, the land gap by 27 percent and the GHG mitigation gap by 15 percent. Actions to take include measuring food waste, setting reduction targets, improving food storage in developing countries and streamlining expiration labels. [source]

  5. Shift to healthier, more sustainable diets.

    Consumption of ruminant meat (beef, lamb and goat) is projected to rise 88 percent between 2010 and 2050. Beef, the most commonly consumed ruminant meat, is resource-intensive to produce, requiring 20 times more land and emitting 20 times more GHGs per gram of edible protein than common plant proteins, such as beans, peas and lentils. Limiting ruminant meat consumption to 52 calories per person per day by 2050—about 1.5 hamburgers per week—would reduce the GHG mitigation gap by half and nearly close the land gap. In North America this would require reducing current beef and lamb consumption by nearly half. Actions to take include improving the marketing of plant-based foods, improving meat substitutes and implementing policies that favor consumption of plant-based foods. [source]

  6. Avoid competition from bioenergy for food crops and land.

    If bioenergy competes with food production by using food or energy crops or dedicated land, it widens the food, land and GHG mitigation gaps. Biomass is also an inefficient energy source: Using all the harvested biomass on Earth in the year 2000—including crops, crop residues, grass eaten by livestock and wood—would only provide about 20 percent of global energy needs in 2050. Phasing out existing biofuel production on agricultural lands would reduce the food gap from 56 to 49 percent. Actions to take include eliminating biofuel subsidies and not treating bioenergy as “carbon-neutral” in renewable energy policies and GHG trading programs. [source]

  7. Achieve replacement-level fertility rates.

    The food gap is mostly driven by population growth, of which half is expected to occur in Africa, and one third in Asia. Most of the world is close to achieving replacement-level fertility by 2050 (2.1 children per woman). Sub-Saharan Africa is the exception, with a current fertility rate above 5 children per woman and a projected rate of 3.2 in 2050. If sub-Saharan Africa achieved replacement-level fertility rates along with all other regions by 2050, it would close the land gap by one quarter and the GHG mitigation gap by 17 percent while reducing hunger. Actions to take include achieving the three forms of social progress that have led all others to voluntarily reduce fertility rates: increasing educational opportunities for girls, expanding access to reproductive health services, and reducing infant and child mortality so that parents do not need to have as many children to ensure survival of their desired number. [source]

  8. Increase livestock and pasture productivity.

    Livestock production per hectare varies significantly from country to country and is lowest in the tropics. Given that demand for animal-based foods is projected to grow by 70 percent by 2050 and that pastureland accounts for two thirds of agricultural land use, boosting pasture productivity is an important solution. A 25 percent faster increase in the output of meat and milk per hectare of pasture between 2010 and 2050 could close the land gap by 20 percent and the GHG mitigation gap by 11 percent. Actions farmers can take include improving fertilization of pasture, feed quality and veterinary care; raising improved animal breeds; and employing rotational grazing. Governments can set productivity targets and support farmers with financial and technical assistance. [source]

  9. Improve crop breeding.

    Future yield growth is essential to keep up with demand. Conventional breeding, the selection of best-performing crops based on genetic traits, accounted for around half of historical crop yield gains. New advances in molecular biology offer great promise for additional yield gains by making it cheaper and faster to map genetic codes of plants, test for desired DNA traits, purify crop strains, and turn genes on and off. Actions to take include significantly increasing public and private crop-breeding budgets, especially for “orphan crops” like millet and yam, which are regionally important, but not traded globally. [source]

  10. Improve soil and water management.

    Degraded soils, especially in Africa’s drylands, may affect one quarter of the world’s cropland. Farmers can boost crop yields in degraded soils—particularly drylands and areas with low carbon—by improving soil and water management practices. For example, agroforestry, or incorporating trees on farms and pastures, can help regenerate degraded land and boost yields. Trial sites in Zambia integrating Faidherbia albida trees yielded 88–190 percent more maize than sites without trees. A 20 percent faster increase in crop yields between 2010 and 2050—as a result of improvements in crop breeding and soil and water management—could close the land gap by 16 percent and the GHG mitigation gap by 7 percent. Actions to take include increasing aid agencies’ support for rainwater harvesting, agroforestry and farmer-to-farmer education; and reforming tree-ownership laws that impede farmers’ adoption of agroforestry. Agencies can also experiment with programs that help farmers rebuild soil health. [source]

  11. Improve productivity and environmental performance of aquaculture.

    As wild fish catches decline, aquaculture production needs to more than double to meet a projected 58 percent increase in fish consumption between 2010 and 2050. This doubling requires improving aquaculture productivity and addressing fish farms’ current environmental challenges, including conversion of wetlands, use of wild-caught fish in feeds, high freshwater demand and water pollution. Actions to take include selective breeding to improve growth rates of fish, improving feeds and disease control, adoption of water recirculation and other pollution controls, better spatial planning to guide new farms and expansion of marine-based fish farms. [source]

Water and Women Campaign

“Access to and use of water is a key issue which we address when supporting rural women to realize joint economic initiatives to improve the livelihoods of their families.” — Head of the Association Women and Society.

Climate Change Challenges Unique to Food Security.

The 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report projected that without adaptation, global crop yields will likely decline by at least 5 percent by 2050, with steeper declines by 2100. For example, growing seasons in much of sub-Saharan Africa are projected to be more than 20 percent shorter by 2100. A 10 percent decline in crop yields would increase the land gap by 45 percent. Adaptation will require implementing other menu items, as well as breeding crops to cope with higher temperatures, establishing water conservation systems, and changing production systems where major climate changes will make it impossible to grow certain crops. [source]