Key Recent Foresight Documents

 AuthorTitleDescriptionKey Messages (direct or slightly edited text from reports)
1CIRAD, INRALand Use and Food Security in 2050: a Narrow RoadA foresight study on land use of and food security conducted by CIRAD and INRA that combined data analysis with expert workshops. It assessed five dimensions of land use and used hypotheses about future trends to construct 5 scenarios• The study concluded that only one of the 5 scenarios would be likely to meet world food and nutrition security by 2050. This one scenario is a significant departure from current consumption and production trends.
• Changes in both demand and supply side of food are needed for healthy diets.
• Responses need to see food security as a global public good with commensurate collaborative governance structures
• Sustainable intensification and agroecological pathways for cropping and livestock systems need to be developed
• Trade is critical to food security and more transparent rules are needed to link trade agreements to environmental and food security issues.
2EAT-Lancet CommissionFood, Planet, Health: Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food SystemsGlobal initiative to set global scientific targets for healthy diets and sustainable food systems. Prepared by convening 37 leading scientists from 16 countries across diverse disciplines.• Food is the single strongest lever to optimise human health and environmental sustainability on Earth.
• Healthy diets should be 2500 kcal/day and based on diversity of plant-based foods, and limit animal source foods, saturated fats, refined grains and added sugars.
• Globally there is a need to double the intake of healthy food and half the intake of less healthy foods. We are consuming nearly 3 times as much meat and refined grains as is desirable in achieving good health.
• For planetary health, there are six key planetary boundaries to consider: climate, land, water, nitrogen, phosphorus, and biodiversity.
• To stay within a safe operating space across these boundaries there will need to be a significant dietary shift, substantial increases in production efficiency and halving of waste.
• The data are both sufficient and strong enough to warrant immediate action to avoid disastrous consequences.
• There are five strategies for action: 1) seek international and national commitments to shift to a healthy diet, 2) reorient agriculture from producing quantities of food to producing healthy food, 3) sustainable intensification of food production to increase high-quality output, 4) strong and coordinated governance of land and oceans, and 5) halve food losses and waste .
3FAOThe Future of Food and Agriculture Alternative Prepared by the FAO Global Perspectives Studies Team of the Economic and Social Development Department. Provides a quantitative foresight analysis based on three scenarios for linkages between food and agriculture. Quantitative modelling of scenarios was done using FAO GAPS and ENVISAGE. The report provides a very substantial presentation and analysis of key drivers and trends.• The food system is faced with significant future uncertainties with growing demand for better foresight and scenario analysis to assess future pathways.
• Future sustainability of food systems is jeopardized by key trends related to food demand, and business as usual is no longer an option to achieve the SDGs and ensure longer term sustainability.
• The change needed transcends the divide between developed and developing countries.
• Even with consumer awareness leading to reduced demand producing more food will be necessary under significant resource constraints requiring much more efficient means of production.
• If full resource costs were factored into food production food prices would be likely significantly increase leading to more careful use of resource and food however for overall food security a more equitable distribution of income within and across countries would be needed.
• Achieving sustainable food production and food and nutrition security requires a combination of managing food demand and change in dietary preferences, sustainable intensification of production systems, and tackling poverty and inequality.

• Climate change will have a big impact on the future of food production.
• In relation to the criteria of food access and utilisation, and food availability and sustainability, three scenarios are modelled: Towards Sustainability (TSS), Business as Usual (BAU), and Stratified Societies (SSS)
• In the BAU scenario, the world fails to address many of the current food system challenges leading to increased conflicts, constrained human development, exacerbated climate change, failure to meet zero hunger and no malnutrition goals, and a rapid expansion of land and water use that threatens climate and ecosystems.
• TSS leads to more equitable access to basic services and safe and nutritious food produced within environmentally sustainable methods.
• SSS sees self-protected elites classes isolating themselves and not responding to wider scale poverty, food insecurity, poor nutrition, and resource exploitation, leading to a situation even worse than BAU. There is high, but unequally distributed economic growth and there is a significant unwinding of global institutions to support development and the environment.
4IFPRIGlobal Food Policy Report 2018Annual food policy report from IFPRI based on IFPRI research and analysis (review of 2017 reported in 2018)• While 2017 saw economic recovery it also witnessed increased global hunger particularly related to areas of conflict and a changing global landscape with antiglobalization threatening trade, investment, and international cooperation, creating increased uncertainties for global food security and nutrition.
• Global inequality has risen sharply since 1980 and will continue increasing under business as usual policies
• Child stunting remains a significant issue with a predicted 130 million children still being stunted in 2025, while at the same time over-nutrition is a growing concern for most countries.
• Global commodity prices have been relatively low due to high production benefiting the food security of poorer groups.
• Survey on food security and globalisation from 1000 people in 105 countries show that only 41% of respondents think hunger and undernutrition can be eliminated by 2025 with much greater pessimism from the youth. Antiglobalization rhetoric is seen as harmful to the hungry and impoverished by 66% of respondents. 72% of respondents are dissatisfied with food policies in their own regions.
• “Global integration of national food systems— through the flow of goods, investments, people, and knowledge— will be key to progress, but will require good governance and strong commitment from the international community”
• Climate change will continue to pose immediate and long-term threats and global cooperation will be essential as tensions grow.
5Independent Science and Partnership Council (ISPC)Agriculture & Food Systems to 2050 - Global Trends, Challenges and OpportunitiesA book contextualizing the role of agricultural research in addressing the 2030 Agenda. It explores the pressures on global food systems between now and 2050. • Rapid urbanisation and income growth are driving demand from greater quantity and diversity of food creating growth opportunities for the agriculture sector and smallholder farmers.
• Disruptive technologies most likely to impact on resource use efficiency including production techniques, energy use and post-harvest shelf-life, quality and safety.
• Rise of obesity and non-communicable diseases needs urgent attention with a shift toward nutrition sensitive food systems.
• Potential impacts of climate change on rural poor and cropping systems is not well understood and a substantial research agenda is needed to address this.
• Improved understanding of hydrological and biogeochemical cycles needed to improve soil nutrient balance, water use efficiency and respond to climate change
• Adapting transformative innovations including ICT, ‘big data’, and precision agriculture to smaller scale developing country contexts is challenging but offers potential for
• Amalgamation of bioscience companies and food industry could transform power relations in ways that hamper access to technology for the poor, requiring a new role for public sector research.
• Food systems thinking is needed to help better understand trade-offs and leverage points for policies and interventions.
6Interacademy Partnership (IAP)Opportunities for future research and innovation on food and nutrition security and agriculture:
The InterAcademy Partnership’s global perspective
Report from the global network of the world’s science academies, which brings together established regional networks of science and medical academies, enabling the voice of science to be heard in addressing societal priorities• Agriculture and food systems are vital to achieving most of the SDGs.
• Achieving healthy populations requires national actions supported by new international approaches to food systems’ improved functioning supported by a new commitment to mobilize resources to engage science, policy and other stakeholders.
• Need for coordinated international cooperation on priority themes with a strong focus on translation of research to innovation through interdisciplinary connections
• Scientific priorities include:
1. Food and nutrition systems perspective focused on transformation towards circular economy and bioeconomy.
2. How to drive transformations towards healthy diet and good nutrition.
3. Efficiency in food production in context of climate change and consideration of alternative food sources.
4. Optimising use of new biosciences and precision agriculture.
5. Addressing the food, energy, nutrients, water and health nexus, including understanding and balancing trade-offs and risks.
6. Promoting activity at the science-policy interface.
7. Consolidating and coordinating international science advisory systems.
• The IAP encourages its academics to engage in international advisory roles, science policy advisory capacity, monitor progress and support science and technology capacity-building.
7World Resources Institute (WRICreating a Sustainable Food Future – a menu of solutions to feed nearly 10 billion people by 2050A summary of the findings of the World Resources Report Creating a Sustainable Food Future, a multiyear partnership between World Resources Institute, the World Bank Group, United Nations Environment, the United Nations Development Programme, the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement, and the Institut national de la recherche agronomique• Food demand will increase by 50% and animal-based food by 70%, while agriculture already uses half the world’s vegetated land and generating 25% of greenhouse gas emissions.
• Provides a menu of options for a sustainable food future avoiding deforestation, reforesting, and restoring land to stabilise climate, promote economic opportunity and reduce poverty by closing three gaps
1. Food gap between 2010 and 2050 that will require 56% more crop calories,
2. Land gap between land area in 2010 and area required in 2050, an estimated area twice the size of India, and
3. GHG mitigation gap from agriculture between an estimated 15 gigatons of carbon dioxide and a target of 4Gt required to hold global warming below 2 degrees.
• The 22 item menu for action is divided into 5 courses:
1. Reduce demand
2. Increase food production without expanding agricultural demand
3. Protect and restore forests savannas and peatlands
4. Increase fish supply
5. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
• Stand out areas for action include: dramatically improving agricultural productivity; reducing demand by reducing loss and waste, moving toward more plant based diets, not expanding biofuel production and managing population; legal protection of forests, savannas and peatlands from conversion to agriculture and reforestation; moderating ruminant meat consumption; incentives and regulations to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture; spurring technological innovation that for example reduce methane emissions, improve efficient use of fertilisers, increase shelf life of fresh food and enable plan based meat substitutes.
• A model called GlobAgri-WRR estimates how three scenarios called “Coordinated Effort”, “Highly Ambitious” and “Breakthrough Technologies” can narrow and close the gaps.
8World Economic Forum in collaboration with McKinsey and CompanyInnovation with a Purpose: The role of technology innovation in accelerating food systems transformationReport prepared by the System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Food Security and Agriculture for the World Economic Forum 2018• Food systems, to achieve the SDG’s, are in need of transformation to be inclusive, sustainable, efficient, nutritious and healthy.
• Transformation requires a holistic approach engaging all stakeholders employing a wide range of policy, investment, management and behavioural strategies. Technology combined with these strategies has a critical role to play.
• Possible technological options and their impact by 2030 are:
1. Alternative proteins that could reduce GhG emissions by 950 megatons of CO2, reduce freshwater withdrawals by 400 billion cubic metres and liberate 400 million hectares of land
2. Food sensing technologies for food safety, quality and traceability that could reduce food waste by 20 million tonnes
3. Nutrigenetics for personalised nutrition that could reduce number of overweight by 55 million
4. Mobile service delivery that could generate up to $200 billion of income for farmers, reduce GhG emissions by 100 megatons of CO2, reduce freshwater withdrawals by 100 billion cubic metres
5. Big data and advanced analytics for insurance that could generate up to $70 billion of income for farmers and increase production by 150 million tonnes
6. Internet of Things for real-time supply change transparency that could reduce food loss by up to 35 million tones
7. Blockchain-enabled traceability that could reduce food loss by up to 30 million tonnes
8. Precision agriculture for input and water use optimisation that could reduce farmers costs by $100 billion, increase production by 300 million tonnes and reduce freshwater withdrawals by 180 billion cubic metres
9. Gene-editing for multi-trait seed improvements that could Generate up to $100 billion in additional farmer income, Increase production by up to 400 million tonnes, reduce the number of micronutrient deficient by up to 100 million
10. Microbiome technologies to enhance crop resilience: generate up to $100 billion in additional farmer income, increase production by up to 250 million tonnes, reduce GhG emissions by up to 30 megatonnes of CO2
11. Biological based crop protection and micronutrients for soil management that could increase production by up to 50 million tonnes, and reduce GhG emissions by up to 5 megatonnes of CO2.
12. Off-grid renewable energy generation and storage for access to electricity that could generate up to $100 billion in additional farmer income, increase production by up to 530 million tonnes and reduce freshwater withdrawals by up to 250 billion cubic metres.
• Fourth industrial revolution technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual reality, biotechnologies and genomics, new energy systems and robotics additive manufacturing and advance materials/nanotechnologies offer innovation potential for the challenges faced by food systems.
9The Economics and Ecosystems of Biodiversity (TEEB)
Supported by Global Alliance for Future of Food
TEEB for Agriculture & Food: Scientific and Economic FoundationsAn initiative hosted by United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), and coordinated by the TEEB Office in Geneva, Switzerland. ‘TEEB for Agriculture & Food’ (TEEBAgriFood) encompasses various research and capacity-building projects under TEEB focusing on the holistic evaluation of agriculture and food systems along their value chains and including their most significant externalities• Worlds eco-agri-food systems are facing unprecedented challenges including providing healthy diets for 10 billion by 2050, ensuring ethical just and equitable systems from production to consumption, reducing impacts on ecosystems while adapting to climate change, improving livelihoods of 1.5 billion people who work in agriculture, ensuring well-functioning markets and addressing poor nutrition.
• Integrated solutions are needed but best pathways are yet to be found and metrics for assessing food systems performance are week. There is a need to integrate the views of the agronomist, the environmentalist, the sociologist, the economist and the health specialist, while moving beyond the prevailing paradigms and tackling externalities.
• There is a need to understand the stocks and flow of human, social, produced and natural capital in eco-agri-food systems and how to operate with a safe and just space.
• Seven main challenges to Sustainability of eco-agri-food systems each of which can be viewed from an aspirational and business as usual scenario – dietary patterns; human health and food ecology; equity, justice and food security; food wastage; technology; concentration and democracy in the agri-food chain; climate change.
10European CommissionFood 2030 Future-Proofing our Food systems through research and innovationReport on research and innovation as part of the European Union’s FOOD 2030 Initiative, which provides an opportunity for Europe to take a leadership role in transforming and future-proofing our food systems• Global peace and security is largely underpinned by our ability to feed people and provide a basis for good health, however, guaranteeing food and nutrition security in a changing world has become a huge challenge, due to the compounded effects of climate change, resource scarcity and population dynamic
• The European Commission aims to tackle the FNS challenge with research and innovation (R&I) policies designed to future-proof our food systems to make them sustainable, resilient, diverse, inclusive and competitive for the benefit of society.
• Four areas of focus: Nutrition, climate, circularity, and innovation
• Nutrition focuses on changing unhealthy and unsustainable diets, food safety, and protein alternatives to meat. Innovations include printing healthy meals for elderly patients, creating a market for quality plant protein, solutions to vitamin d deficiency and food scanner to improve dietary choice.
• Climate focuses on climate-smart food systems that adapt to and mitigate climate change and enable resource conservation, such as precision farming for small-holders and sustainable aquaculture.
• Circular focuses on circularity and efficiency in food systems to reduce waste and loss and through better packaging, value chain efficiencies, changing consumer attitudes and EU policy change.
• Innovation focuses on empowering communities and a health innovation system that supports new business models that deliver value added product and benefit for society.
11International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)The Hindu Kush Himalaya AssessmentThe first comprehensive assessment of the HKH region that provides an update on the environmental and socio-economic elements of sustainable mountain development. The content is based on the knowledge over 300 researchers and exports brought together under the Hindu Kush Himalayan Monitoring and Assessment Programme (HIMAP) coordinated by ICIMOD• The HKH region is the starting point of 10 major river basins and provides ecosystem services directly and indirectly to nearly 2 billion people.
• Each chapter defines the current state of knowledge of the theme under consideration, the drivers of change, future scenarios, and identifies ideas for sustainable development.
• Although critical challenges driven by environmental and socio-economic changes are impacting livelihoods and environmental conditions, some changes also present unique opportunities for sustainable development e.g. improved connectivity providing improving market access, and growing networks of urban centres supporting prosperity in rural areas.
• Addressing the unique challenges and harnessing the opportunities from transformation necessitates holistic and multidimensional policy approaches.
• Even if global warming are limited to 1.5°C, warming in Hindu Kush Himalaya will be at least 0.3°C higher, and northwest Himalaya and Karakoram at least 0.7°C higher. Such high levels of warming have dire consequences for biodiversity loss, glacial melting, and water availability. The last 5-6 decades have shown an increased trend of extreme warm events, decreasing trend of extreme cold events, and increasing variability in weather disturbances.
• Consensus among models in HKH is weak partly because of complex topography and coarse resolutions of models.
• HKH has high diversity levels of flora and fauna, with the beginnings of good practices in conservation and restoration. However, given the regional and global drivers of biodiversity change, these efforts need to be developed at scale to improve HKH’s ecosystem resilience.
• HKH remains energy poor despite a massive hydropower potential. Local energy resources need to be prioritized, and regional mechanisms should be developed to strengthen regional energy trade.
• Regional policies and processes around environmental governance in HKH regions are few and far between with ineffective implementation of existing policies. Transboundary cooperation is critical for improving environmental governance.
• Cryosphere change will affect streamflows across the region, with snow and glacier volumes projected to decrease in coming decades.
• More than 30% of the population is food insecure, with 50% experiencing malnutrition in some form. National governments need to include a mountain perspective in policies related to food and nutrition security.
• Increasing frequency and intensity of natural hazards put more than a billion people at risk of exposure. Institutions in the HKH need to adopt a standardized, multi-hazard risk assessment approach and enhance resilience through information, infrastructure, institutions, and insurance.
• Migration drives a broad range of changes in HKH, with labour migration particular contributing to poverty reduction. HKH institutions and countries must integrate migration into adaptation, development, and risk reduction processes.
12International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)TWI2050 Report: Transformations to achieve the Sustainable Development GoalsThe first report prepared by the World in 2050 Initiative. It examines the current trends and dynamics influencing the achievement of the SDGs. • Presenting the TWI2050 framework, it identifies six transformations and policy recommendations which will allow the achievement of the SDGs and long-term sustainability to 2050 and beyond.
• Transformation towards a sustainable is ambitious and changes need to be based on that sustainable development is both an environmental and societal challenge.
• The six main transformations that TWI2050 focuses on are human capacity and demography, consumption and production, decarbonisation and energy, food, biosphere, and water, smart cities, and digital revolution.
• Sustainable development must fully integrate people and planet across scales, and focus on attaining human prosperity and social inclusion within a stable and resilient planetary system.
• With the new wave of nationalism and populism, people are threatened by accelerating change, globalization, and sustainable development transformation. Positive and future oriented narratives need to be developed, with significant investments in social cohesion and transformative alliances.
• The transformation to sustainable development will require profound normative, societal, political and institutional changes. This necessitates effective and inclusive governance.