GHI Hosts Ag and Climate Experts to Address Global Water Threats

Posted by on March 21st, 2013 | 1 Comment »

On Wednesday, March 20, the Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) and the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska (DWFI) hosted two events titled, “Too Hot, Too Wet, Too Dry: Building Resilient Agroecosystems.”

Mark Svoboda, National Drought Mitigation Center, event hosted by Global Harvest Initiative, National Press Club; Mark Svoboda, National Drought Mitigation Center Climatologist, at an event sponsored by Global Harvest Initiative and Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska, "Too Hot, Too Wet, Too Dry"

Mark Svoboda

The morning event was held at the National Press Club, and featured Paul Weisenfeld, USAID Assistant to the Administrator in the Bureau for Food Security; Mark Svoboda, National Drought Mitigation Center Climatologist; Manish Bapna, World Resources Institute Executive Vice President and Managing Director; and Claudia Garcia, DVM, Elanco Senior Director of Global Corporate Affairs and Chairwoman, Global Harvest Initiative Board of Directors. Dr. Ronnie Green, Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, served as moderator.

After opening comments from GHI Executive Director Dr. Margaret Zeigler and DWFI Founding Executive Director Dr. Roberto Lenton, a panel discussion focused on how farmers will cope with climate challenges to produce enough food to meet the needs of the future while building resilience and preserving natural resources.

Svoboda described the ongoing drought as “the worst in a generation” and noted that 2012 was the hottest year on record dating back to 1885. Weisenfeld discussed the need to link development programs and invest in research and development, and stressed the importance of a policy environment that supports private investment to increase global agricultural productivity. Bapna described the impacts of changing global diets, the implications of global biofuel policies, and noted that 38 percent of the planet’s land mass is currently dedicated to agriculture.

Garcia concluded the panel session focusing on sustainability, “As our global population grows and millions of people improve their diets, it will be critical to increase the efficiency of water use in agriculture production. With innovative solutions and greater adoption of existing technologies, we can meet the food needs of tomorrow while addressing the challenges of climate change.” Video of the event is available here. Svoboda’s comments at the event were included in a Bloomberg article, “Wet Spring Needed to Replenish Drought-Starved Soil in the U.S.

Senator Mike Johanns with panelists Dr. Cathie Woteki, Joel Lipsitch, April Hemmes, Mark Svoboda, and Dr. Ronnie Green (background) Global Harvest Initiative

Sen. Mike Johanns with panelists Dr. Cathie Woteki, Joel Lipsitch, April Hemmes, Mark Svoboda, & Dr. Ronnie Green (background)

Later in the afternoon, GHI and DWFI hosted a second panel discussion in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry hearing room on Capitol Hill. Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) gave opening remarks prior to the discussion between experts Dr. Cathie Woteki, USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics; Joel Lipsitch, John Deere Director of Business Integration and Strategy; April Hemmes, Iowa cattle and grain farmer, and Mark Svoboda.

In sum of the events, Zeigler stated that, “Water is one of the most important factors in our ability to feed a growing and increasingly affluent global population. We must apply new practices and technologies as well as ensure that sufficient funding is going into R&D for appropriate innovations. The Global Harvest Initiative was pleased to partner with the Water for Food Institute to bring together a high-level group of experts representing USDA, USAID, Elanco, the National Drought Mitigation Center, John Deere, World Resources Institute, and the American farmer. Their work demonstrates the urgency of addressing the impacts of climate change on global water and food security.”

Speaker bios – National Press Club Panel, Senate Agriculture Briefing

Quotes from Too Hot, Too Wet, Too Dry: Building Resilient Agroecosystems

Mark Svoboda’s presentation slides

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