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Reconciling the Competing Demands in the Human-Earth System: Ensuring Food Security


  • The authors thank an anonymous referee and the Editor for valuable comments on an earlier draft of the article. Helpful comments by Kym Anderson in preparing this article are gratefully acknowledged.

Don Gunasekera, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, CSIRO, GPO Box 3023, Canberra, ACT 2602, Australia. Email:


Economic growth and development, along with expanding population, place a continuing pressure on our basic necessities in a world with depleting natural resources, overharvested ecosystems, and volatile commodity markets. These factors pose a range of competing demands relating to: economic and population growth and demographic changes; food, energy and resources security; ecological regime shifts; and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Key indicators of the processes that underlie these competing demands point to continuing food insecurity in low-income countries, exploitation of ecosystems, and depletion of natural resources. This emphasises the need for productivity improvements combined with innovation in institutional and governance structures to help foster global sustainability and ensure food security.