Our key takeaway: The world’s population will grow to 10 billion by 2050. What does this mean for land? By 2050, land demand for agriculture will increase by 56%, for meat and milk production by 70% and for wood by 54%. To meet the agricultural demand alone, we will need to farm new land in areas adding up to roughly two times the size of India, WRI reports. Meat, milk, wood and biofuels come on top of that and increase pressures on the ecosystems in the land that we are not already farming or harvesting. A business-as-usual approach to land use, therefore, means more disruption and destruction of natural habitats and biodiversity, and it comes at a high “carbon opportunity cost.” Around 25% to 40% of all the emissions in our “budget” to limit warming to 1.5°C–2°C will go to farming, wood production and biofuel production from land use changes alone. This means we will drastically go over our budgeted carbon emissions unless we implement new systems that allow us to stop treating land as ‘free’ and start recognising it as our most valuable resource. WRI shares the models used to identify land-use competition, analyses the implications of increasing land-use demands, and describes actions that can allow us to both meet rising human needs for land and preserve the biodiversity and carbon stored in vegetation and soils. The "produce, protect, reduce, and restore” framework proposed carves the path towards curving growing demands for land, by addressing agricultural and forest-dependent production systems as well as our consumption habits.
World Resources Institute (WRI) published the report Global land squeeze: Managing the growing competition for land (July 2023):