Children eating food at school. Credit: Anna Issakova/ Shutterstock

How to guarantee food security

If we were to ensure that the majority of the 9 billion people who will inhabit our planet in 2050 will have regular access to safe, healthy food, we need to understand how trends like population growth, climate change or food prices could impact on global food security.

The European Commission’s Joint Research Council (JRC) published a report in 2015 – Global Food Security 2030, which assesses current global trends with the view to guiding future EU policy around the topic. By examining and agreeing on the key change drivers of in food security, the report proposes a vision for enabling positive change through more solutions-focused thinking.

Researchers identified four priority areas that summarise JRC’s vision for food security:

  • Transformation of the agricultural production systems through investment, research and training
  • Ensuring and maintaining an enabling environment in rural areas, contributing to development and growth
  • A food system where there is more balance between local regional and global levels
  • A demand-driven food system where sustainable objectives are shaped by responsible consumer behaviour

The six key drivers of change in global food security they assessed were:

  1. Demographics: Population estimated to grow by a specific amount and projected to take place in specific geographical regions.
  2. Urbanisation & economic growth: Growth of cities, which then has an impact on economic growth and drives future demand for food.
  3. Food demand & dietary changes: Eg. Trend of growing demand for dairy; sustaining meat supply or staple crops like wheat and rice
  4. Pressure on natural resources: Availability of arable land;water availability; energy supply; using food crops to make bio-fuels.
  5. Climate change: Shifting weather patterns can affect supply and demand for food. Weather can have both a positive and negative impact.
  6. Food prices: Correlation between high cost of food and poverty and hunger.

Moving to a food systems approach to solve increased need for food

In looking at the trends and then creating a vision for global food security, the report also suggests that we need to move from a food security approach to a food systems way of thinking. This means that the potential food challenges we could face should not be seen as a looming food crisis, but rather we need to change our mindset to see it as an opportunity for companies and governments to further develop innovation and technology to address challenges, drive sustainable, win-win business, create better food distributions systems or help make improvements to the entire food value chain.