UN future food concerns

Updated: 05/11/2008

Source: Fresh Info – Sunday, 2 Nov 08

Prof. John BeddingtonProfessor John Beddington, chief scientific adviser to the UK government, has stressed how the interconnected problems of climate change, urbanisation, population growth, poverty alleviation and rising demand for energy and water, are acting together to raise the spectre of food insecurity in the near future.

Beddington was addressing over 300 representatives of the UK farming industry at the English Farming & Food Partnerships conference.

“There is an interconnection between food, water and energy security, which are all intimately linked with climate change,” said Beddington.

“In the near future, agriculture needs to generate 50% more food with less land, less water, using less energy, less pesticide and releasing less emissions”

Beddington quoted some startling statistics at the conference:

  • The World Bank estimates 100 million people could fall into extreme poverty due to soaring food and energy prices.
  • Net population increase is occurring at a rate of 6 million a month, or 72 million a year – most will be born into poverty, with a life expectancy in the mid-30s, and they will have three children before they die.
    This is not a welcoming world for them.”

  • By 2030, 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities, and that will pose problems for land, water, disease, sanitation and food production. These people will rely on others to produce and supply their food.
  • The UN estimates that world food production must rise by 50 per cent by 2030 to meet increased demand – an enormous challenge without more land and fresh water.
  • One in three people are already facing water shortages and the UN predicts that total world water demands will increase by more than one-third by 2030.
  • Total world energy demands are also predicted to increase by more than 50 per cent by 2030.

1928 - great depression“Better crop protection methods to reduce losses will be crucial to boosting food production in the near future”

Delegates were asked to consider three questions:

  1. How can we feed nine billion people equitably, healthily and sustainably?
  2. How do we cope with future demands on water, and energy for people coming out of poverty?
  3. Can we do all this while reducing and adapting to climate change?”

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