Knowledge for better food systems

Shaping the Future of Global Food Systems: A Scenarios Analysis

This World Economic Forum report explores four alternate visions of the world and its food systems in 2030. The key predictable forces of change are used as a base and the critical uncertainties of ‘Demand Shift’ and ‘Market Connectivity’ are used as axes to derive the four scenarios. 

The image below illustrates these scenarios.



The authors of the report emphasise that these are not predictions – instead, they are meant to serve as illustrative stories which can help further thinking and decision-making around food systems. The scenarios are summarised as follows:

1. Survival of the Richest: In a world of resource-intensive consumption and disconnected markets, there is a sluggish global economy and a stark division between the “haves” and “have-nots”.

2. Unchecked Consumption: With strong market connectivity and resource-intensive consumption, this is a world of high GDP growth with high environmental cost.

3. Open-source Sustainability: A future linking highly connected markets and resource-efficient consumption has increased international cooperation and innovation, but may leave some behind.

4. Local Is the New Global: In a world of fragmented local markets with resource-efficient consumption, resource rich countries focus on local foods, whereas import dependent regions become hunger hotspots.

A key point emerging from the report is that consumption ‘will make or break global health and sustainability.’ It argues for a redesign of current food production systems and notes that climate change is a challenging factor in all scenarios.

You can download the full report here.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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