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July 11th is World Population Day: How to Feed 7- Billion People?

July 11, 2011 - Carla Tracy

According to Worldwatch's Nourishing the Planet team, we need to find sustainable ways to feed our growing population, while also providing economic opportunities and enhancing the environment. Agriculture offers the best answers.

”As the global population increases, so does the number of mouths to feed, according to Worldwatch’s press release. “As we observe World Population Day on July 11th, the good news is that in addition to providing food, innovations in sustainable agriculture can provide a solution to many of the challenges that a growing population presents."

"Agriculture is emerging as a solution to mitigating climate change, reducing public health problems and costs, making cities more livable, and creating jobs in a stagnant global economy," says Danielle Nierenberg, Director of Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet project, a two-year evaluation of environmentally sustainable agricultural innovations to alleviate hunger.

”This year, the world's population will hit 7 billion,” according to the United Nations. “Reaching this unprecedented level of population density has prompted the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) to launch a ‘Billion Actions’ campaign to promote individuals and organizations that are using successful new techniques for tackling global development challenges.”

”Not even demographers can actually forecast how many people will be added to world population over the coming century,” notes Robert Engelman, a population expert and Worldwatch Executive Director.

"We'll have to learn how to moderate our consumption of materials and energy and to jumpstart new technologies that conserve them," Engelman continues..”Innovations in farming will be among the most important: with planning, agriculture can operate not only as a less-consumptive industry, but also one that works in harmony with the environment.”

Nourishing the Planet recommends four ways that agriculture is helping to address the challenges that a growing global population will bring.

• Urban agriculture for nutritious food and a cooler climate. The U.N. predicts that 65 percent of the global population will live in cities by 2050. Urban agriculture provides an increasing number of city residents with fruits and vegetables, leading to improved nutrition and food security.

• Farming for employment and education. Opportunities in agriculture can reduce poverty and empower a growing population. In Los Angeles county, the organization Farmscape Gardens has helped tackle a 16 percent unemployment rate by hiring workers to establish and maintain edible gardens.

• Agroecology for a healthier environment. Agroecology, which offers numerous benefits to the environment while also feeding people, includes organic agriculture, agroforestry, conservation agriculture, and evergreen agriculture.

• Innovations in food waste to make the most of what we have. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, industrialized countries waste 222 million tons of food annually, or almost as much as sub-Saharan Africa's 230 million tons of net food production per year. Decreasing food waste makes it possible to feed people across the planet without increasing agricultural production.

About the Worldwatch Institute:

Worldwatch is an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues. The Institute's State of the World report is published annually in more than 20 languages. For more information, visit World Watch’s Website.


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