Agriculture's Contribution to a Better World: Transition of the Global Food System

In the past 50 years, global agriculture has contributed tremendously to improving food availability for a fast-growing world population. While the global population has more than doubled during this period, the number of undernourished people has decreased. The green revolution was critical to realize this spectacular growth on almost the same agricultural land area. Notwithstanding recent progress in many places, the adverse effects of agriculture and food production on the planet have become significant too (deforestation, biodiversity loss, eutrophication, acidification, etc.), while food demand will continue to increase.

“The challenge for the next fifty years is therefore multidimensional. In terms of production, a further growth is necessary to feed almost 10bn people in 2050, but at the same time, negative external effects have to be reduced. Meanwhile, the supply of existing and new related services to society has to continue or increase. And changes are necessary in consumption to increase human health and to reduce the environmental footprint of food,” according to Harry Smit, Senior Analyst.

This report elaborates on the required changes in the global food system and potential solutions. The challenges for earth's four spheres are based on the EAT-Lancet Commission report of January 2019.

This report was co-authored by Marjan van Riel