While energy insecurity remains a major problem for many countries today, the food and water crisis is an even bigger problem. But what does this crisis mean?
Since the pandemic, there has been an increased awareness of the world’s resources and how to protect them as temperatures rise, populations increase and the sustainability of the food and water supply chain is putting under pressure.
The conflict in Ukraine has put additional pressure on food production and supply and exposed the vulnerability of many resource systems.
In addition to existing concerns, in the spring and summer of 2022 many countries in Europe experienced some of the most extreme droughts ever. Once a very rare event in this part of the world, droughts were caused by a perfect storm of lack of rainfall, pollution and overconsumption. Around 30% of Europeans are currently affected by water scarcity each year.
Ominously, the vice president of the World Bank said in 2009 that “the wars of the 21st century will be about water unless we change the way we manage it.”
Across the food and water system as a whole, it is estimated that around $30 trillion needs to be spent to make the system sustainable.
Mark Lacey, head of global resource equities, said: “If we don’t change, we’re going to see negative feedback loops increase. In a scenario of two degrees of global warming, the yield of maize, for example, would fall by more than 20%. Likewise, if we don’t change, we will have to use more land for agriculture, to feed the growing population. This leads to more deforestation. This leads to species collapse. And in fact, an acceleration of climate change and global warming.
“We are going to see massive desertification of regions across Africa. This, in turn, will trigger food security crises, mass immigration. You can very quickly paint a picture of how this unfolds. And ultimately, all of this could culminate in massive food hyperinflation. Which is truly a terrifying prospect and one we haven’t seen in generations.
Despite the bleak scenario, change is possible and many businesses as well as consumers themselves can provide practical solutions to the crisis.
Felix Odey, Portfolio Manager, Global Resource Equities, said: “We are seeing many technologies and data applications coming in that are making a massive contribution to increasing agricultural yields. Things like gene editing and genetic modification are controversial in some markets. But equally, if it allows continents like Latin America to leapfrog some of the more developed agricultural markets and actually demand less pesticides and less fertilizers, it will all have a huge positive impact.
“The consumer is at the center of it all. If our diets moderate even a little, we can have huge impacts on global greenhouse gas emissions, across the food and water sector.
In this infographic, we look at the main problems and solutions to the food and water crisis and how society can work together to solve it.