On Monday, September 21st, I spoke at the UN Sustainable Development Science Symposium held at CUNY Graduate Center. The circular science seminar series is organized in the context of the opening of the 70th General Assembly of United Nations. My talk was about Securing the Global Water Sustainability and Food Security. Here are some excerpts/key points from the talk:
Where will the food for the 9 billion people we expect on Earth by 2050 come from? The answer to this question depends on where the water and the energy for agriculture will come from. Establishing an economically, environmentally and physically feasible pathway to achieve water, energy and food security in the face of a changing climate is crucial to planetary well-being.
A central hypothesis of this work is that innovation towards agricultural sustainability in countries such as India and China, that have large populations relative to their water, energy and arable land endowment, and yet have opportunity for improvement in productivity metrics such as crop yield per unit water or energy use, can show us the way to achieve global water-food-energy sustainability.
These countries experience a monsoonal climate, which has a high frequency of climate extremes (more floods and droughts, and a short rainy season) relative to the developed countries in temperate climates. Strategies that are resilient to such extremes in monsoonal climates may be of global value in a warmer, more variable world. Much of the future population growth is expected to occur in Africa, S. America and S. Asia. Targeting these regions for higher productivity and resilience is consequently important from a national security perspective as well.