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Collection: The Environmental Food Crisis - The Environment's Ro ...

The Environmental Food Crisis - The EnvironmentThe Environmental Food Crisis - The Environment's Role in Averting Future Food Crises
A new rapid response assessment report released by UNEP warns that up to 25% of the world’s food production may become lost due to environmental breakdown by 2050 unless action is taken. Prepared by the Rapid Response Assessment Team at UNEP/GRID-Arendal and UNEP-WCMC, the report provides the first summary by the UN of how climate change, water stress, invasive pests and land degradation may impact world food security, food prices and life on the planet and how we may be able to feed the world in a more sustainable manner. The report concludes that we need to get smart and more creative about recycling food wastes and fish discards into animal feed. While major efforts have gone into increasing efficiency in the traditional energy sector, food energy efficiency has received too little attention.
Available online at: http://www.grida.no/publications/rr/food-crisis/
Trends in Food prices Trends in Food prices
FAO Food Price Index
09 Mar 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius/GRID-Arendal
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Projected impacts of climate change Projected impacts of climate change
Global climate change may impact food production across a range of pathways (Figure 17): 1) By changing overall growing conditions (general rainfall distribution, temperature regime and carbon); 2) By inducing more extreme weather such as floods, drought and storms; and 3) By increasing extent, type and frequency of infestations, including that of invasive alien species (dealt with in a separate section).
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Trends in population, developed and developing countries, 1750-2050 (estimates and projections) Trends in population, developed and developing countries, 1750-2050 (estimates and projections)
Each day 200,000 more people are added to the world food demand. The world’s human population has increased near fourfold in the past 100 years (UN population Division, 2007); it is projected to increase from 6.7 billion (2006) to 9.2 billion by 2050, as shown in Figure 4 (UN Population Division, 2007). It took only 12 years for the last billion to be added, a net increase of nearly 230,000 new people each day, who will need housing, food a...
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Many of the largest rivers in the Himalayas Hindu Kush region are strongly dependent upon snow and glacial melt for waterflow Many of the largest rivers in the Himalayas Hindu Kush region are strongly dependent upon snow and glacial melt for waterflow
Except for the fact that glaciers are melting rapidly in many places, we do not have adequate data to more accurately project when and where water scarcity will affect irrigation schemes in full. Making accurate projections is also difficult because of variations in the effects on ground and surface water, as well as on water for urban needs and industrial purposes Furthermore, the cost of water may also increase, seriously complicating the water...
02 Feb 2009 - by Ieva Rucevska, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Biofuels production 1975-2005 (ethanol and biodiesel) Biofuels production 1975-2005 (ethanol and biodiesel)
Biofuels have grown quickly in demand and production (Figure 14), fuelled by high oil prices and the initial perception of their role in reducing CO2 emissions (FAO, 2008). Biofuels, including biodiesel from palm oil and ethanol from sugarcane, corn and soybean, accounted for about 1% of the total road transport in 2005, and may reach 25% by 2050, with the EU having set targets as high as 10% by 2020 (World Bank, 2007; FAO, 2008). For many...
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Dietary change in developing countries, 1964-2030 Dietary change in developing countries, 1964-2030
As nearly half of the world’s cereal production is used to produce animal feed, the dietary proportion of meat has a major influence on global food demand (Keyzer et al., 2005). With meat consumption projected to increase from 37.4 kg/person/year in 2000 to over 52 kg/person/year by 2050 (FAO, 2006), cereal requirements for more intensive meat production may increase substantially to more than 50% of total cereal production.
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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An increasing number of countries are leasing land abroad to sustain and secure their food production An increasing number of countries are leasing land abroad to sustain and secure their food production
The world regions are sharply divided in terms of their capacity to use science in promoting agricultural productivity in order to achieve food security and reduce poverty and hunger. For every US$100 of agricultural output, developed countries spend US$2.16 on public agricultural research and development (R&D), whereas developing countries spend only US$0.55 (IFPRI, 2008). Total agricultural R&D spending in developing countries increased ...
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Losses in the food chain – from field to household consumption Losses in the food chain – from field to household consumption
i.e., before conversion of food to feed. After discounting the losses, conversions and wastage at the various stages, roughly 2,800 kcal are available for supply (mixture of animal and vegetal foods) and, at the end of the chain, 2,000 kcal on average – only 43% of the potential edible crop harvest – are available for consumption. (Source: Lundqvist et al., 2008).
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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FAO Commodity Price Indices FAO Commodity Price Indices
Although production has generally increased, the rising prices coincided with extreme weather events in several major cereal producing countries, which resulted in a depletion of cereal stocks. The 2008 world cereal stocks are forecast to fall to their lowest levels in 30 years time, to 18.7% of utilization or only 66 days of food (FAO, 2008).
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Trends in productivity 1981-2003 (greening and land degradation) Trends in productivity 1981-2003 (greening and land degradation)
Unsustainable practices in irrigation and production may lead to increased salinization of soil, nutrient depletion and erosion. An estimated 950 million ha of salt-affected lands occur in arid and semi-arid regions, nearly 33% of the potentially arable land area of the world. Globally, some 20% of irrigated land (450,000 km2) is salt-affected, with 2,500–5,000 km2 of lost production every year as a result of salinity (UNEP, 2008).
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Agricultural production increases, per commodity 1965-2008 Agricultural production increases, per commodity 1965-2008
The use of fertilizers accounts for approximately 50% of the yield increase, and greater irrigation for another substantial part (FAO, 2003). Current FAO projections in food demand suggest that cereal demand will increase by almost 50% towards 2050 (FAO, 2003; 2006). This can either be obtained by increasing yields, continued expansion of cropland by conversion of natural habitats, or by optimizing food or feed energy efficiency from produ...
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Possible individual ranges of yield and cropland area losses by 2050 Possible individual ranges of yield and cropland area losses by 2050
Figure 24: Possible individual ranges of yield and cropland area losses by 2050 with climate change (A2 scenario), non-food crops incl. biofuels (six OECD scenarios), land degradation (on yield and area, respectively, see text), water scarcity (including gradual melt of Himalayas glaciers, see box and text) and pests (invasive species of weeds, pathogens and invertebrates such as insects, see text). Although these effects may be considerable, ...
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Trends in food commodity prices, compared to trends in crude oil prices (indices) Trends in food commodity prices, compared to trends in crude oil prices (indices)
The impacts of reduced food availability, higher food prices and thus lower access to food by many people have been dramatic. It is estimated that in 2008 at least 110 million people have been driven into poverty and 44 million more became undernourished (World Bank, 2008). Over 120 million more people became impoverished in the past 2–3 years.
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Potential for cropland expansion Potential for cropland expansion
Current projections suggest that an additional 120 million ha – an area twice the size of France or one-third that of India – will be needed to support the traditional growth in food production by 2030, mainly in developing countries (FAO, 2003), without considering the compensation required for certain losses. The demand for irrigated land is projected to increase by 56% in Sub- Saharan Africa (from 4.5 to 7 million ha), and rainfed land b...
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Food lost Food lost
Food losses in the field (between planting and harvesting) could be as high as 20–40% of the potential harvest in developing countries due to pests and pathogens (Kader, 2005). Postharvest losses vary greatly among commodities and production areas and seasons. In the United States, the losses of fresh fruits and vegetables have been estimated to range from 2% to 23%, depending on the commodity, with an overall average of about 12% losses b...
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Supermarket share of retail food sales Supermarket share of retail food sales
Large urban markets create the scope for the establishment of big supermarket chains, with implications for the entire food supply chain. In 2002, the share of supermarkets in the processed/packaged food retail market was 33% in Southeast Asia and 63% in East Asia (Figure 33). The share of supermarkets in the fresh foods market was roughly 15–20% in Southeast Asia and 30% in East Asia outside of China. The 2001 supermarket share of Chinese ...
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Food consumption – trends and projections Food consumption – trends and projections
Increase in crop production has mainly been a function of increases in yield due to increased irrigation and fertilizer use. However, this may change in the future towards more reliance on cropland expansion, at the cost of biodiversity. (Source: FAO, 2006).
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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Projected changes in cereal productivity in Africa, due to climate change – current climate to 2080 Projected changes in cereal productivity in Africa, due to climate change – current climate to 2080
Water is essential not only to survival but is also equally or even more important than nutrients in food production. Agriculture accounts for nearly 70% of the water consumption, with some estimates as high as 85% (Hanasaki et al., 2008a,b). Water scarcity will affect over 1.8 billion people by 2025 (WHO, 2007). This could have major impacts on health, particularly in rural areas, and thus also major impacts on farmer productivity. Althoug...
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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World capture fisheries and aquaculture production World capture fisheries and aquaculture production
Current projections for aquaculture suggest that previous growth is unlikely to be sustained in the future as a result of limits to the availability of wild marine fish for aquaculture feed (FAO, 2008). Small pelagic fish make up 37% of the total marine capture fisheries landings. Of this, 90% (or 27% of total landings) are processed into fishmeal and fish oil with the remaining 10% used directly for animal feed (Alder et al., 2008).
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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FAO Food price index (FFPI) FAO Food price index (FFPI)
The current world food crisis is the result of the combined effects of competition for cropland from the growth in biofuels, low cereal stocks, high oil prices, speculation in food markets and extreme weather events. The crisis has resulted in a several-fold increase in several central commodity prices, driven 110 million people into poverty and added 44 million more to the already undernourished. Information on the role and constraints of t...
02 Feb 2009 - by Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal
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