Global Agricultural Sustainability Imperative

For our agricultural systems to be sustainable, they must meet the needs of present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is a systemic challenge, encompassing environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainability. It is also a global challenge. The lives and livelihoods of everyone on the planet will be impacted by the choices we make, and we all have a role to play in achieving our sustainability goals.

The Global Agricultural Sustainability Imperative identifies key issues that must be addressed to achieve sustainable production of agricultural products that we eat, use, and enjoy.


A graphic of a pig, sheep, rooster, and people.

+ 500 million people depend on livestock for their livelihoods and 2/3 of livestock producers are women.¹

A graphic of cows and milk.

At current milk yields, India would need to add 20 million dairy cattle and buffalo over the next 10 years to meet rapidly rising domestic demand.²

A graphic of fish.

Fish are a primary source of protein for more than 3 billion people and demand is rising.³

A graphic of pigs.

China has already lost 350 million pigs to African Swine Fever, nearly one-quarter of the global swine population.4

A graphic of destroyed corn and invasive pests.

Fall armyworm has caused $3 billion (USD) in crop damage in Africa and is rapidly spreading in Asia.5

A graphic of corn and tomatoes.

1/3 of food produced for human consumption — 1.3 billion tons — is lost or wasted annually.6

A graphic showing water dropping.

4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water would be needed to produce the fruits and vegetables that Americans throw away every year.7

A graphic showing fruits and vegetables being thrown away.


A graphic of cotton.

Cotton production will increase by 16% from 2019–2028. Most of this increase will be generated by opening new land for production due to stagnant yields in high-producing countries.8

A graphic of forests and lumber.

1/3 of the global population depends on forest products and services for income, employment, food, fuel, or medicine; 80% of annual forest loss is to make room for crop and grazing lands.9

Graphic of peanuts, sunflowers, and water droplets.

Only 40%–60% of the increased oilseed production (soy, rapeseed, sunflower, and groundnut) during the next 10 years will come from yield increases, as farmers put uncultivated land into production to meet demand.10


Graphic of flowers.

1.3 million hectares of land are used to produce cut flowers, ornamental plants, and bulbs. The global market for flowers and ornamental plants is projected to reach $96 billion (USD) by 2021.11

Graphic card reading "In the U.S., dogs and cats consume as much dietary energy as 62 million Americans."

In the U.S., dogs and cats consume as much dietary energy as 62 million Americans. 12 Global demand for pet food is rising as the population of domestic cats and dogs grows by 22% and 18% respectively (2018-2024).13

A graphic of a person rowing a canoe.

Recreational waterways can be contaminated by agricultural nutrient runoff. Nearly 800 coastal ecosystems around the world are struggling with algae blooms, lack of oxygen, and other problems due to excess nutrients.14

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