Chatham House Food Supply Project

Written by  //  April 22, 2009  //  Agriculture & Food  //  Comments Off on Chatham House Food Supply Project

Thinking About the Future of Food

The Chatham House Food Supply Scenarios

* Demand for food is increasing because the global population is rising and major developing economies are expanding. Global supply capacity, meanwhile, is struggling to keep up with changing requirements.
* Four global food supply scenarios have been developed by the Chatham House Food Supply Project to consider the challenges created and their impact on the EU/UK:
– ‘Just a Blip’: what if the present high price of food proves to be a brief spike with a return to cheap food at some point soon?
– ‘Food Inflation’: what if food prices remain high for a decade or more?
– ‘Into a New Era’: what if today’s food system has reached its limits and must change?
– ‘Food in Crisis’: what if a major world food crisis develops?
* Across the world the responses to change will be conditioned by uncertainties surrounding the availability of sufficient energy, water, land and skills. EU/UK stakeholders need to start planning now to develop new food supply systems that are up to the task.

April 22, 2008 | by Alex Evans |

I’ve just published a new Chatham House paper “Rising Food Prices – Drivers and Implications for Development” on why food prices are rising and what it means for development
One of the paper’s main arguments is that we need to make sure that the urgent doesn’t crowd out the essential in discussions of global food strategies: immediate action on humanitarian assistance needs to be matched by a sustained effort to invest in shared awareness between policymakers of what needs to be done to achieve “the feeding of the ten billion”.  From the press release:
While the current focus on humanitarian aid is welcome, we need to be thinking now about the long term, too – especially how to grow food supply and make sure that the process benefits rural poor people.  What we’re seeing now is just the start of a multi-decade challenge: feeding a global population set to approach ten billion by 2050, in the face of climate change, tighter energy supply, and growing competition for land and water resources.
How we frame and perceive the issue matters enormously.  If the prevailing narrative is a Malthusian story of insufficiency, then the risk is of self-fulfilling prophecy – if for example fears that there isn’t enough to go around lead to countries panic-buying food for stockpiles, pushing prices up even more.  Instead, we need to see this as a transition to a new stable state.  Feeding a world population of ten billion people in 2050 won’t be easy, but it can be done with forethought, collective action and if we don’t panic.

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