Exploring future changes in land use and land condition and the impacts on food, water, climate change and biodiversity
This policy report (PDF) by The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) provides scenario projections for the Global Land Outlook, exploring future changes to the use and condition of land and the resulting impacts on food, water, climate change and biodiversity. Three scenarios reveal the scope of potential future changes in land use up to 2050. In all three scenarios, the pressure on land is projected to increase in Sub-Saharan Africa. Larger and more affluent populations will drive an increase in demand for food and fibre, with projections ranging from 25% to 75%, depending on the scenario being considered. The amount of land available to expand agriculture is becoming more and more limited and expansion increasingly takes place on marginal lands. Future agricultural land use depends greatly on efficiency increases. Over the past decades, the largest contribution to the rise in food production has come from efficiency increases in agriculture, in both yields and conversion steps in the livestock sector. Although to varying degrees, the three scenarios assume enhanced efficiency will continue to play a dominant role in future production increases. In addition, the effects of climate change on future agricultural land use are especially uncertain, but likely to be negative, on a global level. Lower yields due to climate change would result in more land (around 10%) having to be used for agriculture. Change in land condition affects ecosystem functions and is expected to further exacerbate the challenge of managing increasing pressures on land.