Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Science on Global Problems Area: Food & Water

IIASA has defined three new strategic research areas: Food & Water, Energy & Climate Change and Poverty & Equity.

Food & Water has been shared by a few groups within IIASA's research groups; Forestry, Ecology and Land Use Change. They reviewed current research activities and highlighted a few key challenges in this global problem area. These include:
  • Widespread hunger and rising global food demands
  • Agriculture needs to increase 70% globally and 100% in the developing world
  • Agriculture currently uses 70% of all anthropogenic water use.
  • Fishing currently feeds 1 billion people but won't be sustainable with the current overfishing
  • A need for robust expansion of food and bioenergy production with sustainable regulating ecosystem functions protecting the global gene pool.
  • Strategies for copying with climate change needs to be location specific.
Each group expounded on possible research avenues. Its quite fascinating what some of the proposed solutions entail. One worrying fact is that the capacity for rain-fed agriculture in Africa is decreasing by 2050, which given that 95% of the crop-land in Africa is rain-fed and contributes 35% to the GDP and 70% of the employment and 40% of the exports (according to FAO in 2000), maybe that should be a major focus on the African agenda.

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