About the IAASTD Report
Modern agriculture is producing more food per capita than ever before. At the same time, according to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, approximately 795 million people are currently affected by hunger. An additional two billion people are suffering from micronutrient deficiencies, lacking key vitamins and minerals. In 2014, 1.9 billion people were overweight, of these 600 million were obese. Climate change will present an enormous new challenge to agriculture while the world population is predicted to increase to 9 billion by 2050. Whether clean water, fertile soils, forests, wetlands and other natural resources, as well as the biodiversity of the planet, will be available to future generations, in a condition that enables them to survive, will depend crucially on the way we produce our food and on our diets. Agricultural activities and the subsequent processing, storage, transport and disposal of its products are directly or indirectly responsible for almost 40% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. One third of the world’s population obtains its livelihood from agriculture. Agriculture and food is by far the world's largest business and the measure of all forms of sustainable development.
The IAASTD process
It was against this backdrop that the World Bank and the United Nations initiated a unique international scientific process to evaluate the state of global agriculture, its history and future: the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), commonly known as the World Agriculture Report.
More than 400 scientists, stemming from all continents and a broad spectrum of disciplines, worked together for four years with the aim of answering the following question:
“How can we reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods and facilitate equitable, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development through the generation of, access to, and use of agricultural knowledge, science and technology?"
For several decades, the World Bank had seriously neglected investments in the agricultural sector. The IAASTD was hence set up to take stock of global agricultural knowledge and evaluate where and how the World Bank could best invest in the agricultural development of the poorest countries. The aim was to find out which future approaches should be adopted by the 15 international agricultural research centres (CGIAR) administered by the World Bank and which role the controversial technique of genetic engineering should play in feeding the world’s hungry.