Global Outlook – Future competition for land and water

18 mar 2013

The world of today is characterized by an ever increasing globalization. The terms of the global

trade affect our Swedish basic industries. The turmoil in the financial markets is greater than it has

been for many years, creating uncertainty and disturbances. One of the challenges is to support a

growing world population with food, water and energy in a sustainable way.

The times were turbulent also when our academy was founded 200 years ago. Sweden was a

poor country that had just lost Finland to Russia. One of Napoleon’s marshals was put on the royal

throne and became King Karl XIV Johan. The new king of Sweden chose to develop the country

within its boundaries, and to improve agriculture, through research, development and dissemination

of knowledge. Therefore, he took the initiative in establishing an Academy for Agriculture.

Much has happened since then. Sweden has indeed developed within its borders to become

a successful industry and welfare nation. The role of the Academy is different today. We do not

exercise any public authority or have any official administrative tasks any longer. Instead, we have

become an important meeting place and a forum for discussion and exchange of information

and experience. In the circle of fellows there are experienced and knowledgeable practitioners

from agriculture, forestry and industrial operations as well as well-reputed researchers and also

officers in high positions in the Swedish public administration. Our valued foreign fellows hold

corresponding positions in their home countries.

Global development requires a sustainable use of natural resources and protection of people

and the environment. Environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources is a result of

a number of factors in a complex context. There is now a broad consensus that greenhouse gases

contribute to climate change. The conditions of the agricultural sectors are affected, by a clear political

focus on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as by the consequences of climate change that alter

the international competitiveness of farming. Primary products from forests and fields will play

an increasing role both as energy carriers (as replacements for coal, gas and oil), as replacements

for petrochemical products and processes, and as substitutes for energy-intensive, non-renewable

building materials.