Seed World

Can We Feed the World Without Destroying the Planet?

The ‘World Resources Report: Creating a Sustainable Food Future’ shows that it is possible. There is no silver bullet – but technology can play an important role.

How can the world adequately feed nearly 10 billion people by the year 2050 in ways that help combat poverty, allow the world to meet climate goals, and reduce pressures on the broader environment? The newly published World Resources Report addresses this fundamental question.

As the global population grows from 7 billion in 2010 to a projected 9.8 billion in 2050, and incomes grow across the developing world, overall food demand is on course to increase by more than 50%, and demand for animal-based foods by nearly 70%. Yet today, hundreds of millions of people remain hungry, agriculture already uses almost half of the world’s vegetated land, and agriculture and related land-use change generate one quarter of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


This report proposes a menu of options that could allow the world to achieve a sustainable food future by meeting growing demands for food, avoiding deforestation, and reforesting or restoring abandoned and unproductive land—and in ways that help stabilize the climate, promote economic development, and reduce poverty.

This report explores a 22-item “menu for a sustainable food future,” which is divided into five “courses” that together could close these gaps:

  • reduce growth in demand for food and agricultural products;
  • increase food production without expanding agricultural land;
  • exploit reduced demand on agricultural land to protect and restore forests, savannas, and peatlands;
  • increase fish supply through improved wild fisheries management and aquaculture; and
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production.

The menu items for a sustainable food future, described and analyzed in the five courses, focus heavily on technical opportunities. However, menu items cannot be implemented in isolation, and they are all subject to a variety of cross-cutting public and private policies. Also, the report concludes that prior analyses have generally not focused on the promising opportunities for technological innovation and have often underestimated the large social, economic, and environmental co-benefits.

The World Resources Report Creating a Sustainable Food Future is the result of a multiyear partnership between World Resources Institute, the World Bank Group, United Nations Environment, the United Nations Development Programme, the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement, and the Institut national de la recherche agronomique.

Find the report here: