Exploring Future Food Provision Scenarios for China

Lin Ma*, Zhaohai Bai, Wenqi Ma, Mengchu Guo, Rongfeng Jiang, Junguo Liu, Oene Oenema, Gerard L. Velthof, Andrew P. Whitmore, John Crawford, Achim Dobermann, Marie Schwoob, Fusuo Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Developing sustainable food systems is essential, especially for emerging economies, where food systems are changing rapidly and affect the environment and natural resources. We explored possible future pathways for a sustainable food system in China, using multiple environmental indicators linked to eight of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Forecasts for 2030 in a business as usual scenario (BAU) indicate increases in animal food consumption as well as increased shortages of the land available and the water needed to produce the required food in China. Associated greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen and phosphorus losses could become 10-42% of global emissions in 2010. We developed three main pathways besides BAU [produce more and better food (PMB), consume and waste less food (CWL), and import more food (IMF)] and analyzed their impacts and contributions to achieving one or more of the eight SDGs. Under these scenarios, the demand for land and water and the emissions of GHG and nutrients may decrease by 7-55% compared to BAU, depending on the pathway followed. A combination of PMB and CWL was most effective, while IMF externalizes impacts to countries exporting to China. Modestly increasing feed or food imports in a selective manner could ease the pressure on natural resources. Our modeling framework allows us to analyze the effects of changes in food production-consumption systems in an integrated manner, and the results can be linked to the eight SDGs. Despite formidable technological, social, educational, and structural barriers that need to be overcome, our study indicates that the ambitious targets of China's new agricultural and environmental strategy appear to be achievable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1385-1393
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume53
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2019

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Ma, L., Bai, Z., Ma, W., Guo, M., Jiang, R., Liu, J., ... Zhang, F. (2019). Exploring Future Food Provision Scenarios for China. Environmental Science and Technology, 53(3), 1385-1393. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.8b04375