Florida A&M University hosted the inaugural EnergyWaterFoodNexus Summit, an international conference that connected a global network of over 300 researchers, innovators, and other stakeholders working in the energy, water, and food sectors. Participants from as far away as South Africa, Hungary, and India joined local and regional attendees to share knowledge. Led by the FAMU School of the Environment with collaboration from the Sustainability Institute and several colleges and schools, the summit also included co-sponsors from the City of Tallahassee’s Environmental Policy & Energy Resources division, the US Department of Energy ARPA-E as well as private sector contributors like SalterMitchell and Yum! Brands.
The EnergyWaterFoodNexus is a new science enterprise launched at FAMU through an international, public-private partnership that seeks to provide sustainable and innovative solutions global security.
During the summit, participants from various disciplines had the chance to learn about and work together to tackle complex issues affecting every community. The lineup of renowned speakers included Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power, New York Times best-selling author of “The Big Thirst” Charles Fishman and European Commission head of innovation Istvan Kenyeres.
Summit chair and dean of the FAMU School of the Environment Dr. Victor Ibeanusi explained the purpose of the EWFN.
“The intent of the EWFN is to brand this as a new science enterprise designed to provide solutions to the global energy, water and food crisis,” Ibeanusi said. “Students can also interact with international leaders in agriculture, business research, technology and more."
Odemari Mbuya, faculty director for the FAMU Sustainability Institute and professor in the center for water and air quality ensured that there are solutions to these globally vexing problem.
“Energy, water, and food, they are all related,” Mbuya said. “There are problems which cover all those three … so we are looking for solutions."
Kirit Shelat, the chair of India’s National Council for Climate Change and Sustainability Development, led a contingency of scientists and agronomist from India to attend the summit. The NCCSD signed a memorandum of understanding with FAMU to collaborate on research, faculty and student exchanges.
Speaking on the prospects of the MOU between the two organizations, Shelat said “FAMU can make available appropriate technology related to climate smart agriculture and smart city management for its replication in India.”
Mbuya explained the importance of working internationally with various organizations.
“We need to work together, which is the purpose of the memorandum of understanding. We can work with people in different parts of the world and gain the right tools to better control [our global environment]… If we can better predict upcoming changes, we can plan appropriate mitigation,” Mbuya said.
The summit presented several themes and tracks for participants, discovering emerging innovations, understand policy implications and accelerate technology. Furthermore, Idea Hack sessions aimed at solving complex problems that require multidisciplinary and diverse perspectives brought together multidisciplinary young and experienced collaborators to “pitch” a challenge and open up for an informal brainstorming session.
Learn more about the EWFN science enterprise at FAMU at http://www.famu.edu/index.cfm?environmentalscience&EnergyWaterFoodNexus