To feed a global population of 9.1 billion people, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that food production will need to increase 70 percent by 2050. Ninety percent of this increase will need to come from intensification of agriculture—getting more crops out of the same amount of farmland—rather than expansion of cropland. On November 30, 2015, scientists and researchers from across the globe will come together to discuss ecological intensification for three weeks on the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN forum) hosted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Ecological intensification—the optimization of all provisioning, regulating and supporting ecosystem services in the agricultural production process—has been proposed as a promising solution that can increase yields while decreasing the environmental burden of food production. The FSN forum will provide a venue for policy discussions linked to scientific inquiry and practice and prompt researchers to discuss their findings and demonstrate opportunities for ecological practices in farming.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, through its LIBERATION project, aims to provide the scientific evidence base for ecological intensification. Food Tank’s Harvesting the Research series features interviews with the project’s scientists and researchers to highlight research results for a lay audience.
The FSN forum’s focus on policy may be a necessity for the success of ecological intensification. “Many stakeholders would end up losing if there were a shift away from business-as-usual agriculture, which is a major barrier to implementation of ecological intensification,” says Dr. Brian Petersen. “Many of the experts believe that a complete shift in paradigm will require a tremendous amount of public support, not only from the populations of different countries, but also from governments.”
Throughout the forum topic, scientists will discuss cost-effectiveness of farm interventions, promotion of ecosystem services at the landscape level, and possibilities for outreach to farmers in the European Union. The discussion will also focus on best practices and policy mechanisms to facilitate the shift to a more ecological agricultural paradigm.