Conclusions

This chapter has focused on the global economic impacts by 2030 that would occur without effective planned adaptations, and the constraints to achieving these adaptations. Clearly, more work is needed to refine our understanding of climate impacts on the agricultural economy. Yet it is fairly evident that, even in the next 20 years, climate change has the potential to substantially add to the dual challenges of feeding a growing and wealthier global population and increasing the rural incomes of the majority of the world's poor who continue to work in agriculture. Effective adaptation therefore represents a tremendous opportunity to improve the future outlook for the world's food economy. From a food security perspective, adaptation in southern Africa and South Asia, and for the crops most important to those regions, appears to be particularly needed given the substantial climate risks faced in these relatively food insecure regions.

The question of which specific adaptation approaches will be most effective is beyond the scope of this chapter, but a topic much deserving of future work. Many of the opportunities for breeding and crop management outlined in the next chapters will be likely to play a crucial role in adjusting to a changing climate (see the sections 'Adapting to Biotic and Abiotic Stresses through Crop Breeding' and 'Sustainable and Resource-conserving Technologies for Adaptation to and Mitigation of Climate Change' in Chapter 1, this volume). But changes in development of rural infrastructure and institutions that can more effectively manage risk and improve resiliency to climate shocks are also likely to be important. One of the key challenges for researchers over the next decade will be to compare these different strategies to each other, and evaluate interactions between each strategy, rather than considering each in isolation. Such comparisons will be necessary to guide investments and policies that result in successful and cost-effective adaptation.

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