Seven Billion and Growing: How Will the World Feed Itself?

(ADB and CIDA)

04 May 2012 (2:00 pm-3:30 pm, San Miguel Hall)


Demand for food, feed and fuel is expected to expand rapidly on growing population. Is the world ready to feed 7 billion without stunting growth and harming environment and how?

This seminar will explore three core issues:

  • Assessment of global supply and demand.Increasing demand for agricultural products combined with binding constraints to supply put upward pressure on food prices and pose a risk to food security. Competing demand for food, feed, and fuel may imply excessive or poorly managed use of water, land, and agricultural resources. Can food security be ensured in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner for a fast growing demand for food, feed and fuel?
  • Economic and social impacts of rising food prices.Rising food prices feed into inflation complicating monetary policy amid slowing global economy. Where subsidies are used to control the prices, fiscal issues arise as well. But more importantly, social impacts on poverty, access to and equity in food, adequacy of social safety nets are crucial questions for food security. What are the macroeconomic and social impacts of rising food prices? How will high food and fuel prices affect the poverty and income inequality?
  • The role of policy. What is the role of policy in aggravating or ameliorating the challenges to food security? What are the specific national and regional policies that developing member countries can adopt to ensure food security without compromising on the agenda of structural transformation and upgrading of their economies? What can ADB and other multilateral development banks do to assist the development countries in ensuring food security?


A recent ADB study estimated that a 30% increase in food prices can reduce GDP growth in some of the food importing countries by as much as 0.6 percentage points; if the rise in food prices was also accompanied by a 30% rise in the fuel prices, the projected decline in GDP growth rates for these countries could be as high as 1.5 percentage points. High food prices also erode the purchasing power of households and undermine recent gains in poverty reduction: an ADB study estimated that a 10% increase in domestic food prices in developing Asia, home to 3.3 billion people, could lead to a 1.9 percentage point increase in poverty incidence, equivalent to pushing 64.4 million into poverty (based on a $1.25-a-day poverty line).

As the world's population just surpassed seven billion in 2011, demand for food, feed and (bio-) fuel is expected to rapidly expand in the medium to long term. However, the increase will have to come in the face of declining availability and quality of water and land resources on account of competing demands, poor management of agricultural resources, and climate change.


Paul Samson
Director General, Canadian International Development Agency

Xianbin Yao
Director General, Pacific Department, Asian Development Bank


Pierre Jacquet
Chief Economist, Agence Française de Développement

Hiroyuki Konuma CV
Assistant Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization, Bangkok

Mark Rosegrant CV
Director, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington D.C.

Ren Wang CV
First Vice President, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, People's Republic of China

Changyong Rhee
Chief Economist, Asian Development Bank

Diane Jacovella
Vice President, Canadian International Development Agency

Moderator: William Pesek, Bloomberg

View the Seminar Program