The Role of Latin America’s Land and Water Resources for Global Food Security: Environmental Trade-Offs of Future Food Production Pathways.

One of humanity’s major challenges of the 21st century will be meeting future food demands on an increasingly resource constrained-planet. Global food production will have to rise by 70 percent between 2000 and 2050 to meet effective demand which poses major challenges to food production systems. Doing so without compromising environmental integrity is an even greater challenge. This study looks at the interdependencies between land and water resources, agricultural production and environmental outcomes in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), an area of growing importance in international agricultural markets. Special emphasis is given to the role of LAC’s agriculture for (a) global food security and (b) environmental sustainability. We use the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT)—a global dynamic partial equilibrium model of the agricultural sector—to run different future production scenarios, and agricultural trade regimes out to 2050, and assess changes in related environmental indicators. Results indicate that further trade liberalization is crucial for improving food security globally, but that it would also lead to more environmental pressures in some regions across Latin America. Contrasting land expansion versus more intensified agriculture shows that productivity improvements are generally superior to agricultural land expansion, from an economic and environmental point of view. Finally, our analysis shows that there are trade-offs between environmental and food security goals for all agricultural development paths.