Jesus College Conference on Food, Farming and Climate Change
Our food systems face two profound challenges in the near future: population growth and climate change. Projections suggest we will have 2 billion more people to feed by 2050. Without a significant reduction in food loss and waste, population growth may require 50-60% increase in global food production by 2050. Food is an essential part of health and wellbeing, and we also need to consider what we eat and how much of it. With 2 billion people already suffering micronutrient malnutrition worldwide, while another 1.9 billion people are overweight or obese, what we see is a need to rethink production and distribution and reconfigure our food systems.
Furthermore, we need to drive agritech to maximise food production while also ensuring sustainability. As natural resources grow increasingly scarce and are impacted by the effects of climate change, greater integrated planning across landscapes, ecosystems and territories which balance availability and demands and look to enhance efficiency and reuse are necessary. However, we will have to do so within changed environments and in ways that do not endanger future generations’ access to non-renewable resources. We will have to consider how we use land, water, fertilisers, pesticides, and energy, in our production of food. Presently one third of food produced is wasted. This will need to change. With greater attention to increasing circularity, there are opportunities to identify and reduce waste and make productive use of by-products.
This conference explores these challenges and what we should consider in the future. We ask: How can we address inequalities and improve access to foods that meet nutritional needs globally? What science-based and community-based farming practices exist now and are on the horizon that could buffer farmers from climate damage and drive sustainability in the long term? What can policymakers do to support and accelerate the transition?