Back to Library

Food Security, Farming, and Climate Change to 2050: Scenarios, Results, Policy Options

Published by:
Online Location
Publication date
Number of Pages
Type of Publication:
Focus Region:
Focus Topic:
Climate / Weather / Environment
Nutrition / Food Systems
Type of Risk:
Weather & Climate related
Type of Risk Managment Option:
Risk assessment
Gerald C. Nelson, Mark W. Rosegrant, Amanda Palazzo, Ian Gray, Christina Ingersoll, Richard Robertson, Simla Tokgoz, Tingju Zhu, Timothy B. Sulser, Claudia Ringler, Siwa Msangi, and Liangzhi You
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

By 2050, the world’s population is likely to reach 9 billion. Most of these people are expected to live in developing countries and have higher incomes than currently is the case, which will result in increased demand for food. In the best of circumstances, the challenge of meeting this demand in a sustainable manner will be enormous. When one takes into account the effects of climate change (higher temperatures, shifting seasons, more frequent and extreme weather events, flooding, and drought) on food production, that challenge grows even more daunting. The 2010 floods in Pakistan and excessive heat and drought in Russia that resulted in wildfires and a grain embargo are harbingers of a troubled future for global food security.

This research monograph follows the 2009 release of IFPRI’s widely read food policy report, Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation, which used a detailed global agriculture model to analyze crop growth under two simulated future climate scenarios. This monograph takes advantage of and expands on IFPRI’s cutting-edge climate modeling expertise to address the climate change threat in the context of larger food security challenges. It provides the most comprehensive analysis to date on the scope of climate change as it relates to food security, including who will be most affected and what policymakers can do to facilitate adaptation. Building on previous research by IFPRI and other international organizations, this monograph examines a wider range of plausible economic, demographic, and climatic futures than has previously been analyzed.

Using comprehensive empirical analysis, the authors suggest that policymakers should take into account (1) the value of broad-based sustainable development, (2) the power of investments to enhance agricultural productivity, (3) the importance of an open world trade system, and (4) the need for early action on both adaptation and mitigation. As policymakers in the developing world well know, neither food security nor climate change can be viewed in isolation. This report will be indispensible to readers trying to tackle these inextricably linked issues.