Agricultural trade

Long-term Scenarios for Agriculture and Food


Introduction to Long-Term Scenarios

The future of the agriculture and food system is subject to considerable concerns. Increasing agricultural demand, fuelled by growing and increasingly urbanized population, rising incomes and substantial demands for feedstock commodities for energy and other non-food uses, is confronted by limited resources for agricultural production, such as land and water. Climate change may play an additional role in changing productivity potentials and production systems around the globe. For the longer run, the system may face a number of challenges:

  • Will it be possible to further improve food security in the most vulnerable regions, and if so, what is required to achieve this objective?
  • Does the required growth in global and regional food production impede the capacity of the agricultural sector to provide other services that societies increasingly demand?
  • What are the possible trade-offs in choices faced by policy makers and other stakeholders?

No one, however, can foretell the future. Given the substantial uncertainty in talking about the longer run, scenarios – rather than predictions – can play an important role in exploring possible developments in the future, and in testing alternative strategies for coping with potential challenges. Policy making in such an uncertain environment needs a basis for judging on the robustness of alternative decisions, and scenarios – both qualitative “stories” and quantitative, model-driven pathways tracking their implications in a theoretically consistent and highlighting their dependency on policy and investment decisions – are a key tool to inform discussions. OECD work focuses on the dialogue across governments and with other stakeholders, experts and modelers. It also brings together aspects from a variety of economic, biophysical, social and political issues, thus allowing for a multi-disciplinary approach necessary for an informed debate. This exchange, the development of shared views on future developments and of common strategies to deal with its challenges is in the center of OECD’s scenario work.


Past events

Workshop: “Long-Term Scenarios for Food and Agriculture: Challenges and policy opportunities” 3-4 December 2013,Paris

“Global Economic Model and Scenario Comparison”

  • This project, co-ordinated by the OECD Secretariat under the umbrella of the Agricultural Model Inter-comparison and Improvement Project (, has brought together 10 key global economic models from various institutions around the globe and aimed at improving the understanding and interpretation of long-term scenarios for agriculture and food security in the context of climate change. A series of papers, submitted for a Special Issue of Agricultural Economics, are expected to be published during Summer 2013 and to inform the next Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( More information on these papers soon on this site.

Workshop: “Long-Term Scenarios: Supporting Robust Policies for Global Agriculture and Food”

  • The workshop, held on 21-22 October 2010 in Paris,  brought together some 35 researchers from various institutions around the globe.
  • Access the workshop report.

Meeting of the Committee for Agriculture at Ministerial level

Held on 25-26 February 2010 in Paris, Ministers identified and discussed, among others, a number of challenges and opportunities related to future developments of the agricultural sectors and markets. Related documents:


Symposium: “What Future for Agriculture and Food in an Increasingly Globalised World?”

Held on 26 June 2009 in Paris, it brought together some 130 academics, policy makers, civil society, business and International Organisations from a variety of geographic areas.


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