The Future of Global Food and Farming from a European Perspective

The Global Food and Farming Futures Report

The Global Food and Farming Futures report, conducted by Foresight, the UK Government’s futures think tank, has recently been published. It uses scientific evidence from an array of sources as well as futures analysis to identify critical issues facing the global food system to 2050 and to explore and analyse possible policies and interventions for addressing those challenges.

The project has taken a long term, strategic look at likely challenges over the next 40 years to 2050, and a very broad view of the food system and the wider context in which it operates, considering many different types of concerns and experiences, from African smallholders to multinational retailers, from governance to evolving consumer demand. Contributors were drawn from a wide range of disciplines: natural and social scientists and experts in risk management, economics and modelling. The project involved around 400 leading experts and stakeholders from about 35 low, middle and high-income countries across the world. The report identifies five key challenges for the future:

  • Balancing future demand and supply sustainably – to ensure that food supplies are affordable;
  • Ensuring adequate stability in food supplies, and protecting the most vulnerable from the volatility that does occur;
  • Achieving global access to food and ending hunger (recognising that producing enough food in the world so that everyone can potentially be fed is not the same thing as ensuring food security for all);
  • Managing the contribution of the food system to the mitigation of climate change; and
  • Maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services while feeding the world.


Alongside this British-based project, the French have been researching this topic in their own foresight study, Agrimonde, conducted by INRA and CIRAD. Applying the same timeframe and using similar research methods, they too have recently published their report.

The French report stresses the importance of a future agriculture which is both productive and ecologically sustainable, pointing to our current food model in industrialised countries as especially ineffective in the latter. In particular, excessive consumption and excessive losses during the distribution and final consumption phases of our food model must all be recognised as key failings. The report argues that that this type of food system should not be adopted elsewhere, and highlights the importance of having a secure international market for agricultural and food products.

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18 Feb 2011