The food security challenge

Animation by Zedem Media.

Video transcript

The global food system is under pressure.

Over the next 35 years, the growing global population will demand more food than has ever been produced in human history!

But food security faces a number of challenges across both production and consumption which research will be essential to solve.

Agriculture is essential, but uses 70% of all fresh water, produces around a third of all greenhouse-gas emissions, and can lead to biodiversity loss and soil degradation. With no new land for agriculture, finding new methods to sustainably produce more food on available land will be essential.

At the same time, food consumption patterns need to change. One in three people suffer from some form of malnutrition, from hunger and undernutrition to overweight and obesity, making poor diet the most significant cause of global disease. Demand for more resource intensive products such as meat and dairy continues to grow in every region, whilst a third of the food produced each year is wasted.

On the current trajectory, the food system will likely account for most of the carbon budget for a 2 degree temperature rise by 2050, leaving little space for other sectors, and making it almost impossible to meet the Paris Agreement.

Climate change to this degree will alter what can be grown and where, while also increasing extreme weather and changing the spread of pests and diseases. This will lead to food production shocks, potentially triggering food price spikes and civil unrest.

The Global Food Security programme, is working to address these challenges through research.

We bring together the major UK public funders of food security research and work with stakeholders and researchers from different disciplines to help deliver a healthy and sustainable food system.

Find out more about the Global Food Security programme.

Latest blog post

Earth, Wind, Fire, and global agreements: How do global events change the nature of food security research?

At their inaugural meeting, the Global Food Security Science Advisory Group analysed recent events and identified a set of 10 priority research questions to address the food security challenge. Professor Tim Benton from the University of Leeds and chair of the advisory group, and the Global Food Security (GFS) programme’s Sian Williams explore the evolving research landscape.

Read more - Earth, Wind, Fire, and global agreements: How do global events change the nature of food security research?

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