The Melbourne Statement

The Melbourne Statement

By 2030 the global population – currently growing at around 140 people per minute - is predicted to reach 8 billion, with an extra 2 billion people requiring reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. The world’s middle class is also predicted to rise from ~2.5 billion to 4.9 billion, over the same period. The need to feed an extra 2 billion people, coupled with the increased demand for higher quality food from the rising middle class presents a range of challenges for humankind. Firstly, it is the humanitarian challenge to provide nutritional security for the resource-poor, particularly in developing countries. Secondly, the rising middle class presents a major opportunity for Australian agriculture to meet the rising demand for food in higher value markets. More people and more food required, but this extra food will have to be produced from less land, while reducing degradation, with less water, less energy-rich inputs, less greenhouse gas emissions and in a changing climate. Some have called this unprecedented confluence of pressures the ‘perfect storm’ of food security.

'Sustainable intensification' is emerging as the new paradigm for agriculture to increase production on the existing land area, while also reducing the environmental footprint of food production. However, translating the theory of sustainable intensification into increased Australian farm productivity - and simultaneously, increased ecosystem sustainability - requires new and innovative research.

To address these issues, the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, through the Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre (PICCC), hosted a strategic science ‘think tank’ on the 30th September 2014, focused on the 'Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture and what it means for South-Eastern Australia?'

The challenge presented to the scientists at the Think Tank with was to address the question:  

It is now 2050 and we are looking back at the past 35 years and identifying the key innovations, research, policies and practices, adopted by industry, that allowed us to increase agricultural productivity, while not increasing our impact on the environment or degrading the natural resource base - In other words, we have achieved Sustainable Intensification.

Speakers at the ‘think tank’ presented their visions for ‘sustainably intensified’ farms in 2050 and in so doing, identified the priorities for investment in the R,D and E necessary to develop the technologies, practices and policy settings necessary for successful sustainable intensification. 

The key outcomes from this Think Tank are captured in the attached '2014 Melbourne Statement on Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture' - click on the link below to download the statement. 

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