This book has traced three challenges facing the land and water resources upon which agriculture relies – to increase food production by almost 70 percent by 2050; to reduce hunger and improve livelihoods for the poorest; and to minimize or mitigate degradation of land and water and of the broader ecosystems. A range of technical and institutional solutions exist and have been discussed in previous chapters. They need to be adopted to local farming systems and socio-economic contexts. Improved planning, linked to smart incentive packages, can then establish a framework for investment that assigns agreed values to natural capital. On this basis land and water management that is efficient, equitable and sustainable can be encouraged at all scales.
Movements towards this new ‘green economy’ have started. Increasingly, governments, the civil society and the private sector are looking for technologies and approaches that can raise productivity whilst protecting the natural resource base and associated ecosystems. Packages for more sustainable farming are being adopted, and measures to overcome the technical and socio-economic constraints have been devised.
However, despite this progress, there remain considerable barriers to adoption. The proliferation of instruments, conferences and diverging commitments is time and resource consuming with very little effect on the ground. Political commitment by nations and the international community to tackle issues in a synergetic manner is essential.
Moving to more sustainable pathways of intensification and ecological management will require additional efforts. Policies, institutions and implementation strategies will need adjustment at global, national and local levels to equip organizations and farmers with the knowledge, incentives and financial resources they need. With this support farmers can raise productivity sustainably and strengthen the integration of their farming within local ecosystems, managing tradeoffs to keep adverse effects to the minimum. A knowledge-rich engagement at local, national and global levels focusing on land and water systems at risk will ultimately spread socio-economic growth benefits broad and wide, reducing food insecurity and associated poverty.