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Feeding 10 billion people

IDC Herzliya’s dual Sustainability & Government major teaches its students to build a new, sustainable food production system

Earth day at IDC Herzliya (Photo: IDC)
Earth day at IDC Herzliya (Photo: IDC)

According to UN forecasts, the world population will hit 9.7 billion by 2050. This rapid population growth will lead to an estimated 70-100% rise in the demand for food. One of the UN’s most ambitious and challenging sustainable development goals (SDGs) is “zero hunger.” But with some 800 million people already suffering from chronic undernourishment, can we meet this challenge? And can we meet it in a sustainable manner, without polluting or exhausting water and land resources, and without accelerating climate change, which in turn increases the stress on food production?

The answer is “Yes, but…” Yes, there is indeed a way to feed 9 billion people. But, building a system that would allow for this requires a number of changes to the current food system. This involves, first and foremost, a transition to a sustainable production system, i.e., sustainable agriculture, which combines crop and animal agriculture, protects natural resources and ecosystem services, uses non-renewable resources sparingly, and supports a high quality of life for farmers and for society. In other words: produce more (food) for less (resources, water, human labor, pesticides, fertilizers, energy, etc.).

Drastic as these changes sound, they are feasible, provided a number of simple agricultural practices are adopted. And while technology may increase food production per units of land, it will not enable us to continue our current consumption habits. Thus, a fundamental change must be made. 

The school of Sustainability & Government (Photo: IDC)

IDC Herzliya’s dual Sustainability & Government major teaches its students to build a new, sustainable production system. Our faculty members have an in-depth understanding of food systems, the tensions between limited resources and increased demand for food, the effects of economic growth on changes in dietary preferences, and the impact of climate change on our planet’s ability to feed 9 billion people. We focus on innovation and policy, and encourage our students to address these challenges in creative ways. 

Students who graduate with a BA in Sustainability & Government from IDC’s School of Sustainability are focused on crucial world issues. They will consider solutions to challenges such as worldwide hunger, water scarcity, and climate threats to agriculture and the global food system. These solutions may include recycling water, urban agriculture, genetic modification of crops, widespread adoption of a plant-based diet, and technological innovations such as lab-grown meat and insect-based proteins. Or, our students could find new answers to these problems that are plaguing the world. Join us and be part of the solution.

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