Jim Woodhill, Director Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation
The reality that sustainably feeding 9 billion people by 2050 will not be an easy task is hitting home. Wherever I turn, I see the warning signs in scientific reports, the UK Chief scientist has referred to a combination of population growth, increasing food demand, climate change, water shortages and degrading natural resources as the ‘perfect storm’, Kofi Annan made it clear that global food security is the issue of our times.
Yes, we all agree that something must be done. But HOW to tackle the enormous challenges that lie ahead is still the question, and that is where the story of ‘scaling inclusive agri-food markets’ begins.
Leading agri-food firms setting increasingly ambitious sustainability targets to ease their worry about continuous future supply. In January 2012, in Davos a group of Dutch (largely agri-food) corporations formed the Dutch Sustainable Growth Consortium.
As the World Business Council has pointed out, there is also the upside, there will be significant business opportunities in the demand growth for food and in the managerial and technological developments that will underpin more sustainable systems.
But, let’s be clear, this story is not simply about how to have sustainably produced products on the supermarket shelves of the rich Northern consumers. It is about feeding everyone and the global food system. It is about the 1 billion who go hungry today. It is about the extra 2 billion people who will be at the bottom of the economic pyramid in 20-30 years’ time and who may also end up hungry. It is about a massive shift of the poor from rural to urban areas and how to feed mega cities.
The challenge ahead of us is clear. Time is pressing.
How will YOU contribute to finding solution(s)?