GTFS: Global Trends and Future Scenarios Index

Food and water gaps to 2050: preliminary results from the global food and water system (GFWS) platform



We review the pressures, threats and risks to national food and water availability based on projected global population growth to 2050 using the Global Food and Water System (GFWS) platform. This platform is used to explore food availability deficits for scenarios of crop production under various fertiliser, water use, crop improvement and land use options. The GFWS platform can be used to assess the effects of annual crop productivity improvements on food production and incorporates data from 19 major food-producing nations to generate projections of food and water gaps in irrigated agriculture. Preliminary results indicate that crop-based food supply is able to meet food requirements by 2050, but this is only possible with ‘input intensification’ that includes increased rates of water in irrigated agriculture and fertiliser use per hectare and continued annual growth of crop yield productivity improvement of at least 0.5 % per year over the period. Increased water withdrawals for agriculture with input intensification would, without any increases in withdrawals in the manufacturing, mining or household uses, place the world above the safe operating space in terms of overall water use by 2050. Even with input intensification, large and increasing crop-based food availability deficits to 2050 can be anticipated in some countries and regions within the group of 19 countries, especially in South Asia.

Keywords: Food security, Water supply, APSIM