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Chancellor Linda Katehi convenes national energy-food-water dialogue

October 31, 2012

Leaders from the research, government, industry and nonprofit sectors gathered at the University of California, Davis, this week to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive roadmap that will position the nation to realize opportunities amid a looming global “resource revolution.”

The Energy-Food-Water Dialogue took place Oct. 28-30 at the UC Davis Conference Center and was hosted by Linda P.B. Katehi; Deborah L. Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Washington, DC-based Council on Competitiveness; and Harold Schmitz, chief science officer at Mars Inc. and executive director of the Mars Center for Cocoa Health Science.

By 2020, the world’s population will have increased by almost one billion people. By 2030, global demand for water is expected to grow by 30 percent, food supplies must increase by 50 percent to keep pace with population growth, and energy demand is expected to increase by more than 53 percent.

“These pressures have the potential to trigger an innovation wave as important as those that contributed to the creation of steam power and the Internet,” Katehi said. “Catching this wave will demand the engagement of stakeholders from industry, government and academia.” 

Said Wince-Smith: “Competing in the 21st century will require a national strategy that bridges the public and private sectors, recognizes the implications of the energy-food-water nexus, and optimizes the nation’s resilience, sustainability and innovation capacity.”

At the conference, attendees explored how science and technology may help meet future resource demands and discussed policy implications regarding the intersections of food, water and energy.

Key questions addressed at the conference included:

  • Are there potential disruptive innovations that can boost resource supply and productivity while leveraging the energy-food-water nexus?
  • How can industry, universities and government build strategic partnerships that leverage the energy-food-water nexus in a way that boosts productivity and increases standards of living?
  • How can the U.S. leverage its technological leadership and institutional knowledge of agriculture?
  • What are the competitiveness implications of the recent natural gas boom?

Through its research, partnerships and collaborations, UC Davis has been working to meet the challenges of the energy-food-water nexus. This year alone, the university:

  • contributed to the creation of the 2012 California Bioenergy Action Plan, which is designed to accelerate clean energy development, job creation and protection of public health and safety;
  • contributed to the 2012 Vulnerability and Adaptation Study, California’s third major assessment of climate change;
  • launched the Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy to use university expertise to inform better policy;
  • won Sierra Magazine’s No. 1 Cool School ranking for UC Davis’ depth and breadth of sustainability initiatives;
  • ranked 11th worldwide for citations per paper in the field of water research, and eighth for citations per paper in water for food research; and
  • completed the Jess Jackson Sustainable Winery Building, a zero carbon teaching and research facility that embodies the energy-water-food nexus.

The dialogue included top executives from Pepsico and TIAX as well as leaders and scientists from national laboratories and universities including Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Arizona State University, Georgetown University, University of Nebraska, the University of Texas at Austin, and Webster University.

Founded in 1986, the Council on Competitiveness is a nonpartisan and nongovernmental organization. Made up of corporate CEOs, university presidents and labor leaders, the council is committed to the future prosperity of all Americans and to enhanced U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

Media contact(s):

  • Lisa Hanna, Council on Competitiveness, (202) 383-9507, lhanna@compete.org, (cell: (202) 372-6510)
  • Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-7704, kekerlin@ucdavis.edu, (cell: (530) 750-9195)

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