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Holistic Pathways for Achieving Food Security and Water Sustainability

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Created: Aug 20, 2018 at 6:22 p.m.
Last updated: Aug 20, 2018 at 6:31 p.m.
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Food-Water Systems
Chair: Megan Konar (University of Illinois)
This session will explore interactions and interconnections between food and water systems. Cutting edge research will focus on identifying resiliencies and vulnerabilities in the water-food nexus and opportunities to promote sustainable water use while enhancing food security.

"Holistic Pathways for Achieving Food Security and Water Sustainability"
Speaker: Kyle Davis (Columbia University)
Co-Authors: Paolo D’Odorico (University of California Berkeley), Ashwini Chhatre (Indian School of Business, Hyderabad), Davide Danilo Chiarelli (Politecnico di Milano), Narasimha Rao (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis), Brian Richter (Sustainable Waters), Lorenzo Rosa (University of California Berkeley), Maria Cristina Rulli (Politecnico di Milano), Antonio Seveso (Politecnico di Milano), Deepti Singh (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and Washington State University), Ruth DeFries (Columbia University)

Global food supply has nearly tripled over the past half century, supporting massive population growth, richer diets, and the expansion of alternative crop-based energy sources. At the same time, one in nine people still cope with chronic undernourishment, and the environmental burden of agriculture has grown substantially. There is wide agreement that humanity’s rate of resource use exceeds what can be sustainably generated and absorbed by Earth’s systems. It is also clear that a continuation of current agricultural practices will enhance the vulnerability of the global food system to economic and environmental shocks. A radical transformation of the global food system is therefore required in order to increase nutritious food production while minimizing its impacts on water resources and the environment and accommodating uncertainties related to demand and climate change.

Aligning these goals demands a holistic perspective that combines diverse lines of scientific evidence with direct stakeholder engagement. I will present some of my recent research that attempts to address this challenge by quantifying historical impacts and tradeoffs of food systems, assessing solutions that can achieve co-benefits for food security, livelihoods, and water resources, and identifying potential suitable policy pathways for their implementation. Combining global assessments and case studies at policyrelevant scales, I will introduce a multidimensional framework that values multiple types of knowledge and that emphasizes interactions with local experts. This approach seeks to integrate food security, economic, social, and environmental considerations in order to examine the outcomes of existing agricultural policies as well as expand the suite of feasible solutions. In doing so, this work offers insights for developing effective food security strategies that are receptive and responsive to the priorities of local governments and communities and that enhance the sustainability and adaptability of food and water systems.

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CUAHSI's 2018 Biennial Colloquium Liz Tran  Public &  Shareable Open Access

How to Cite

Davis, K. (2018). Holistic Pathways for Achieving Food Security and Water Sustainability, HydroShare,

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.


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