FAO Global Perspectives Studies
Economic growth (per capita) is moderate, ranging globally around 1.5 percent per year, but uneven across countries. Long-term cross-country convergence of economic systems is doubtful due to varying investment patterns, technological disparities in all sectors and diverging demographic dynamics. Foreign investment continues along the north-south axis, following historical trends in each country and with current levels of impact on economies and societies. Domestic savings rates continue under current trends. Bilateral trade agreements are in place, with non-tariff border policies gaining importance.Fiscal policies continue to provide some within-country redistribution, but incentives to move towards sustainability are limited. Credit policies have no particular interest in innovative, sustainable enterprises, and public investment remains modest as per current trends. The diverse modalities of economic transformation, the different role and size of fiscal systems, as well as the varying effectiveness of social protection mechanisms across countries lead to differentiated results in terms of reducing poverty and achieving food and nutrition security.
The goals of promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies, and significantly reducing illicit financial and arms flows as well as bribery and corruption, are only partially achieved due to limited effectiveness of institutions at all levels to set up and enforce standards and regulations. Official Development Assistance (ODA) stagnates around current levels while other forms of cross-country cooperation, such as joint research, technological transfers, etc., are limited in bridging country gaps. LMIC foreign debt levels remain stable.International institutions often fail to solve local conflicts or broader international instability, and implicit confrontation therefore prevails. Ongoing demand for fossil fuel energy mostly remains unabated and due to institutional weaknesses, energy- and other resource-related national and international conflicts continue to afflict the planet. Current trends in defence expenditure leave little room for funds to be devoted to economic transformation policies.
Countries are barely able to provide quality education. Access to health services is an ongoing challenge, and low-income countries (LIC) are sometimes unable to maintain their populations’ well-being. Access to clean water and sanitation become widely available in LIC, but it is a struggle to maintain these systems. Many forms of discrimination against women and girls are brought to a permanent end, but labour-market discrimination persists in many countries.
Fossil fuels are the main energy source for decades, with renewable sources slowly emerging. Oil extraction rates remain relatively unchanged. The potential for GHG sequestration is limited, as uncertainty regarding future economic incentives limits R&D and the adoption of suitable practices. The adoption of conservation practices stagnates, as do investments in R&D for agriculture in LMIC. Expanding agricultural and economy-wide GHG emissions contribute to exacerbating climate change and increasing the world’s average temperature, which may rise by 3–4 °C by 2100.
Current moderate trends of extreme poverty reduction are maintained, and moderate food security improvements occur. Nevertheless, “zero hunger” and “no malnutrition” are not achieved by either 2030 or 2050. In terms of diets, current trends of moderate convergence towards the consumption of more nutritious food are maintained, though consumers exhibit limited willingness to pay for environmental services. Food losses and waste globally are mostly unabated and only partially reduced through specific programmes in selected LMIC and consumer campaigns in HIC.
Arable land (the physical area under temporary and permanent agricultural crops) expands at faster annual rates than in the last decades and land degradation is only partially addressed. Land intensity, which is to say the quantity of land per unit of output, decreases as crop and animal yields increase, but these achievements require the progressive use of chemicals. Deforestation and unsustainable raw material extraction both continue, while water efficiency improves but the lack of major changes in technology leads to the emergence of more water-stressed countries.
Innovation is generated through high investments in research following historical trends, with a reduced role of the public sector. However, family farmers do not necessarily benefit due to costly input packages that have dubious effectiveness or environmental sustainability. The level of input use continues to evolve along historical levels, as do current consumer protection regulations. Agricultural yields increase but are variably affected by climate change, depending on latitude and crop. High value-added small farms and processors of high-quality food compete with large-scale, high-input producers. Current trends towards more processed foods in LIC and more fresh food in HIC continue. Agricultural prices globally show limited increases, which reflect pressure on demand and limited resources.