What are the consequences of this urbanisation?
58% of the global population currently lives in cities. By 2030, nearly 5 billion people will be urbanites: There are already 1 billion people living in urban slums and some estimate that figure will reach 2 billion by 2050. And urbanisation has major consequences on food and water supply, which require efficient logistics and transportation. Cities also raise the issue of the provision of public services, security, accommodation, and the planning required to orchestrate it all. This is without mentioning that global urbanisation is also changing eating behaviour in terms of tastes and habits.
Towns are the home of the middle classes aren't they?
Yes. The rapid growth of the global middle class is another underlying trend. But they don't live where they used to! In the year 2000, the global middle class represented 1.4 billion people. That figure had doubled to 2.8 billion in 2015. It should reach 5.4 billion by 2030! This strong growth once again comes with geographical migration. Although 60% of this global middle class lived in Europe and North America in 1900, these regions are now home to only 33% of them, and that number should fall to 20% by 2030: We are seeing a shift towards Asia and South America. Yet this new, larger but less affluent middle class probably won’t have exactly the same expectations as their American or European counterparts. On top of their greater number and diversity, they will probably still want healthy and traceable products. These considerations on developments in food demand are decisive in terms of our future approach to farming in Europe. The markets are shifting and so are behaviour and expectations. Food supply will have to adapt to this hyper-diversity.
"The markets are shifting and so are behaviour and expectations.
Food supply will have to adapt to this hyper-diversity."
What will become of rural areas in this context?
Despite the development of cities, rural areas retain a key role in the world! They are currently home to around 3 billion people. In Asia and Africa, for example, rural areas have not really been depopulated.
People tend to believe that progress, intelligent models, and sustainable development only concern cities. However, the biggest schism today isn't so much between rich countries and poor countries, the developed world and the developing world, but in fact between urban areas and rural areas. Most of the economic investment, media attention, and political focus is in the former. Rural areas, on the other hand, are often enclaves and are rarely valued at their true strategic worth given our current challenges. Marginalised by politics and the media, the farming community is frustrated the world over. Great disruption has been fomented by the frustrations of people in rural communities, in rich and poor countries alike (Trump voters, Tunisian revolution, rural Brexiters). So we need to involve these populations more in development and social inclusion strategies.