The emergence of food security as a global issue is refocusing concern on the nature, properties and functioning of agro-ecosystems, a term coined by Gordon Conway in the 1980s. This report by the World Business Council on Sustainability (WBCS) and IUCN draws attention to recent trends and reveals some 'key facts' that need to be appreciated as part of policy development in relation to water, land use, agriculture, biodiversity and urban-rural relations and futures.
Some of the key 'facts' extracted from the report include:
- Meat consumption in China has more than doubled in the last 20 years and it is projected to double again by 2030.
- Producing meat, milk, sugar, oils and vegetables typically requires more water than producing cereals.
- Food production to satisfy a person's daily dietary needs takes about 3,000 liters of water – a little more than one liter per calorie.
- Agriculture was responsible for 14% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2000.
- The soils of the world contain more carbon than the combined total amounts occurring in vegetation and the atmosphere.
- Agriculture uses 70% of total global “blue water” withdrawals (from rivers, lakes and groundwater aquifers), most of which is for irrigation.
- Only 17% of all cropland is irrigated, but this land provides 30-40% of the world's food production.
- Over 60% of the world's irrigated area is in Asia , most of which is devoted to the production of rice.
- In the last 40 years, the area of global agricultural land has grown by 10%, but in per capita terms agricultural land area has been in decline. This trend is expected to continue as land is increasingly limited and the population grows