2011 Water for Food Conference drawing global interest
icon 2011 Water for Food Conference drawing global interest

India. Ethiopia. China. The Netherlands.

These are just a few of the countries that will be represented at the third annual Water for Food Conference, to be held May 1-4 at The Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln.

Participants from at least 24 countries have already signed up to attend the conference, including scientists, farmers and ranchers, policymakers, industry leaders and others. The conference, “Water for Food: Paths to Solutions,” is hosted by the University of Nebraska’s Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It will focus on potential solutions for managing and using the world’s resources to feed an increasingly hungry and thirsty global population.

Registration for the full conference is $250. Daily passes cost $100 per person per day.

The conference will feature addresses by international experts in the field, including: Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Anil Jain, managing director at Jain Irrigation Ltd. In India; Anders Berntell, executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute; Pasquale Steduto, principal officer at United Nations/FAO Water; András Szöllösi-Nagy, rector at UNESCO-IHE; Julia Bucknall of the World Bank; Peter Saling, head of the Eco-Efficiency Analysis Department at BASF; and others.

Additional sessions include:
  • An industry leaders panel focused on challenges and potential solutions related to water for food.
  • “A View from the Field,” a panel discussion featuring agricultural producers from Nebraska and around the world.
  • Technical sessions on “Quantitative Food Security: Yield Gaps, Water and Nitrogen Productivity” and “Maximizing Water Use Efficiency in Agriculture.”
  • Case studies of innovative approaches to water management challenges.
  • “Water Resources for Irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa,” a workshop on aquifer characterization.
  • A graduate student poster competition focused on conference themes.
  • Networking opportunities.
“The University of Nebraska is proud to join with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to host what is surely becoming the leading conference in the world focused on the strategic use of water for food,” NU President James B. Milliken said. “The conference attracts experts from across Nebraska and around the world who are committed to developing solutions to one of mankind’s great challenges: how to feed a rapidly growing global population with finite amounts of land and water. The University of Nebraska’s Water for Food Institute, which builds on the university’s long history in water research and policy analysis, is taking a leadership role in this important international issue.”

Please visit the Water for Food Conference website for detailed information on speakers and scheduling, and follow the conference’s Twitter feed and Facebook page for updates.

The global challenge

By 2050, the world’s population is expected to increase 40 percent, and demand for food will double. Irrigated agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s freshwater withdrawals, and 60 percent of the food supply is produced by rainfed agriculture – yet water supplies worldwide face increasing demands from expanding urban populations, and a changing climate holds unknown risks. We must grow more food using less water. The Water for Food Conference is a unique opportunity to explore solutions, share ideas and learn from scientists, farmers, policymakers and industry leaders from around the world.

The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute

The University of Nebraska’s Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute is a research, policy and education institute committed to efficiently using our limited freshwater supplies to ensure a reliable food supply for current and future generations. The vision for the institute became a reality with a $50 million founding gift from the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation, announced in April 2010. The NU Board of Regents approved naming the institute in Daugherty’s honor in March 2011. Daugherty died last November at age 88.

Nebraska is a global food producer, has more acres under irrigation than any other state in the U.S. , and is the steward of vast natural resources such as the High Plains Aquifer that make the state an ideal “natural laboratory.” These factors, combined with the knowledge and dedication of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers and the expertise of University of Nebraska faculty who have worked in the areas of water and food for many years, make Nebraska well-positioned to be the global leader in this critical field.

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