Globalization of land and water resources to meet societal food and energy needs

Paolo D'Odorico, Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, University of California Berkeley

Abstract: The increasing global demand for farmland products by the growing and increasingly burgeoning human population is placing unprecedented pressure on the global agricultural system and its water resources. Many regions of the world, that are not self-sufficient because of chronic water scarcity or lack of suitable agricultural land, strongly depend on the imports of agricultural commodities and associated embodied water. Trade and foreign land acquisitions are leading to a displacement of land use and a disconnection between human populations and the water resources they rely on. These phenomena are reshaping the patterns of water dependency through teleconnections between consumers and production areas. Competition in water use for food and energy production constitutes the core of an emerging debate that is stimulating new questions on the environmental, ethical, economic, and policy implications of human appropriation of water resources. This seminar will examine the ways water resources may constrain food and energy production and the ability to meet the growing societal needs.

About the Speaker: Paolo D’Odorico is Professor of Hydrology at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. from the university of Padua (Italy), has been a postdoc at Princeton, and a faculty member at Texas A&M and the University of Virginia. His research focuses on the role of hydrological processes in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems and societies. His work has analyzed the coupling between hydrological processes and the biota, and contributed to the field of ecohydrology. Through field observations and modeling he is studying new mechanisms of desertification and factors contributing to the resilience of ecosystems at the desert margins. He is currently investigating the global patterns of water use for food and energy production and their impacts on water equity, societal resilience, and
food security.

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