Scarcity Waste is the second edition of the Syngenta Photography Award.

In a world of limited resources, scarcity and waste have become fundamental social, political and environmental issues of our time.

In the past 50 years, the world’s demand for natural resources has doubled. If we continue to use resources and generate waste at the current rate, by 2030 we will need the equivalent of two planets. But we only have one.

Something needs to change.

planet under pressure

Our demands on nature are increasing: we are eating into our natural capital, making it more difficult to sustain the needs of the future. We have become the dominant force that is both shaping and altering the planet as a whole. Our impact is no longer local; it’s global. The effect of a growing human population will multiply the pressure we place on natural resources.

Our challenge is to ensure that there is enough land, food and water for future generations.

Fossil fuel emissions, climate change, agriculture, accelerated species extinction, chemical pollution and megacities – we have entered a new period in Earth’s history. The Anthropocene – the human epoch
Source: BBC

our footprint

If we crammed the history of our planet into a year, humans would have existed for the last 23 minutes, but consumed one-third of resources in the last 0.2 seconds. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the products we buy and the waste we generate use up natural resources and affect our environment. And as affluence increases, so does our footprint.

Our challenge is to enable economic growth while creating a sustainable future through technological progress.

In less than two hours, the waste produced in the UK would fill the Albert Hall in London.

food waste

By 2050, the demand for food will double. Yet, about a third of all food produced is wasted each year – four times enough to feed the more than 800 million people who are undernourished. At the same time, 1.9 billion adults are overweight.

Our challenge is to shift consumption patterns, reduce waste and produce enough food without using more scarce and valuable resources.

While over 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, about another 1.9 billion adults are overweight.
World Health Organization / Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations

shaping our future

We need to ask ourselves how to turn the challenges of scarcity and waste into opportunities. It can be done: in 2013, renewable energy met a fifth of the world’s energy demands; today, paper is the most recycled product in Europe, with a recycling rate of 72%; and a 50% fuel efficiency improvement can be achieved through current technologies and policies by 2050.

We shaped our past, are shaping our present and can shape our future responsibly and sustainably.

How, in a world that is so desperately short of resources, can we ensure that there is enough land, food and water for future generations?