One of the major challenges humanity has to face today is undoubtedly to satisfy the food needs of the growing number of the inhabitants of the planet. The global population - which today amounts to 7,7 billion people - is actually destined to reach 8,5 billion in 2030 and to exceed 9,7 billion in 2050, according to the latest projections developed by the United Nations. Usually, it’s actually the perspective of an ever growing population - which requires increasingly bigger resources in order to satisfy its necessities and therefore puts an ever increasing pressure on ecosystems - to explain the concern, which is quite common nowadays, that feeding humanity might become even harder in the future than it already appears to be now.
Overpopulation, however, is just one of the many factors that makes granting global food safety - to be understood as safety in food supply - one of the major challenges for the future of humanity on Earth. During the next decades, satisfying the recommended caloric and food intake of the population will become increasingly harder. This is due not only to the fact that a bigger quantity of food will be needed - in order to face the increasing demand of a growing population - but even to the fact that such an increase in global food production will have to be granted despite the effects that climate change will have on food farming systems. Thore effects are already being registered today and their progressive exacerbation is expected in case of a lack of implementation of policies needed for mitigation of climate change and adaptation to its consequences.
In order to mitigate climate change, the food farming systems will have to be reformed toward sustainability - as it is already happening (the Strategy Farm to Fork developed by the European Commission is an example). According to an estimate reported by the Special Report on Climate Change of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2019, the global food system has been responsible, between 2007 and 2016, of 21-37% percent of all the greenhouse gas emission from anthropogenic origin. The production, the transformation, the packaging, the distribution, the consumption (and the waste) of food that we eat are, in other words, responsible for about a third of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activities. Due to that, the mitigation of climate change can not exclude a reform of the global food system that reduces its environmental impact without compromising its productivity.
This will actually be the challenge for the future: to adapt food farming systems in order to grant the availability of a quantity of food fit to satisfy the demand of an ever growing population, without such an increment of food production causing an intensification of its environmental impact and despite the devastating effects that climate change will have on agriculture.
Actually, the transformation of food systems toward sustainability and the safeguard of food safety have been discussed on an international level, in the context of the UN Food Systems Summit - the first of its kind - held on the last 23 September together with the General Assembly of the United Nations, which ended with the signature of more than 300 commitments from its participants. The goal? To speed up the global process toward the fulfillment of the 17 goals about sustainable development of the UN’s 2030 Agenda, of which the second one envisages that by 2030 word hunger will be eradicated and that everyone will continuously be provided with access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that will fulfill everyone’s food needs and preferences.
Translated by Immacolata Balestrieri