By 2050, the global population is expected to reach nine billion people. Agricultural intensification is required to meet current and future food requirements across the globe. Yet questions remain regarding how such intensification can and should be sustainably implemented – in ways that are environmentally viable and socially responsible. While different trends are seen regionally, it is clear that there must be a global strategy to develop, test, and implement practical guidelines for sustainable agricultural intensification, focusing on key issues such as nutrient management, water management, and the maintenance of ecosystems services, notably the provision of clean air, water, and soil. Similarly, the human livelihood outcomes of these management strategies must address social equity and economic growth of smallholder farmers.
We propose a planning grant to create a CGC Network on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification. Initially, the network would include the Agriculture and Food Security Center of the Earth Institute at the Lamont Campus and the Columbia Global Centers in Kenya and China, with plans to reach out to other CGCs following the planning grant. Together with these CGCs, we will build a global network of expertise to investigate, develop, and promote strategies for sustainable agricultural intensification. The strategies would consist of a set of guidelines and teaching materials that would provide clear and accessible information on sustainable agricultural intensification for faculty and students as well as for policymakers as they address the pressing challenge of feeding the growing world population.