The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) is built on the basic premise that agricultural intensification and productivity increases can be accomplished in ways that are sustainable and that make use of the services provided by ecosystems.
Although this is our goal we recognize that it is easier said than done and there are also trade-offs that need to be addressed. Since the Green Revolution, agricultural productivity has improved enormously and global hunger has been halved in the past 25 years. Yet, with these improvements in productivity there have also been significant environmental costs. Agriculture is now well recognized to be a primary driver of global change and is the single largest contributor to the rising environmental risks of the Anthropocene.
See related post by former WLE Program Director Andrew Noble
With a projected increase in global population to 9 billion by 2050, many questions need to be answered to understand how to meet the rising demands for food within the current constraints on available resources in agriculture. One major suggestion on the table is sustainable intensification – a concept that calls for a paradigm shift in the way we conduct agriculture. Sustainable intensification calls for a more holistic approach to agriculture that focuses on mitigating environmental degradation while increasing yields. Whether this is actually possible is up for debate.