Food and Water Gaps to 2050

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 9:15 AM
Quentin Grafton, Organization Not Listed, Washington, DC, United States
This presentation reviews the pressures, threats and risks to food availability and water based on projected global population growth to 2050. An original model, the Global Food and Water System (GWFS) Platform, is introduced and used to explore food deficits under various scenarios and also the implications for future water gaps. The GWFS platform can assess the effects of crop productivity on food production and incorporates data from 19 major food producing nations to generate a global projection of food and water gaps. Preliminary results indicate that while crop food supply is able to meet global crop food demand by 2050, this is possible only with ‘input intensification’ that includes increased average rates of water and fertiliser use per hectare and at least a 20% increase in average yield productivity (once and for all). Increased water withdrawals for agriculture with input intensification would, absent any increases in withdrawals in the manufacturing or household uses, would place the world very close to the limits of a safe operating space in terms overall water use by 2050. While global crop food supply can meet projected global demand with input intensification, this still results in large and growing crop food deficits to 2050 in some countries, especially in South Asia, where climate change is expected to increase variability of rainfall and, in some places, reduce overall freshwater availability. While beyond the confines of the GWFS Platform the implications of expected water withdrawals on the environment in particular locations are also briefly reviewed.