Doubling Food Provision

Major project in the Food and Water area, contributing to Poverty and Equity. Which factors are regionally the most critical/constraining for achieving reliable long-term food and water supply?

Background: Improving the use and access to the world’s land, water, and ecosystems is critically important, each affecting demand for the others and use of all affecting the climate. Available long-term outlooks assume that increased productivity per unit area will contribute in the order of 90 percent of the required doubling of food production to 2050. An enormous effort is required to achieve such a growth of nearly 1.5% per year, in a context of climate change, regional land and water scarcities, growing competition by non-food uses, and increasing environmental impacts.
Research questions/challenges: Which factors are regionally the most critical/constraining for achieving reliable long-term food and water supply? Which new technologies, investments, policies and institutional innovations could provide greatest benefits for achieving food security, alleviating water scarcity and rural energy poverty. What is the additional demand for land, water, nutrients, energy and finance necessary to achieve sufficient food and water supplies in the next 50 years? What could international agreements contribute to reducing the risks and volatility of food production and trade?
Research approach/activities: Maintaining a global perspective, the project will develop a regional focus.

(i) Typology and spatial datasets of food/water/energy security problem areas: Characterize problem areas with regard to food, water and energy security, e.g. areas where poverty predominates and food requirements of local populations largely exceed the present land and water resource productive capacity; disaster-prone areas where land and water degradation frequently threatens the life of local populations; and areas where inequitable land tenure and/or water rights are the main limiting factors for progress towards food security. 

(ii) Yield gap attribution: Spatially detailed estimation and analysis of yield gaps in crop and livestock production. Attribution of yield gaps to key deficiencies and constraining factors. Assessment of the inter-linkages and coincidence of yield gaps with food/water security issues and poverty.

(iii) Sustainable consumption: Explore impacts of behavioural changes in food demand on the environmental footprint of food provision; particularly livestock products, which are more resource demanding and greenhouse gas emissions intensive than other forms of food production. 

(iv) Volatility of food networks: Investigate risks of increasingly complex food supply chains.

(v) Spatial decision support for good governance:  Develop spatial information system and analysis tools to support stakeholder-led plans and coping strategies that achieve yield gap reduction, increase resource use efficiency, and reduce systems volatility. Develop recommendations for directions of policies and R&D to address main deficiencies of food/water security problem areas.

Linkages: This project, aiming to explore critical factors in future food and water provision and to identify policy options and strategies for improving human livelihoods, has strong linkages to poverty and equity. The project will also directly contribute to FAO’s Global Perspectives work.

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Last edited: 23 August 2012


Günther Fischer

Emeritus Research Scholar


T +43(0) 2236 807 292


2011 - 2015

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313