AUB-FAFS and Texas A&M University (TAMU) hosted a webinar on November 27, 2018, to present the findings of the "San Antonio Case Studies of the Texas A&M WEF Nexus Initiative," which were published in a special issue of Science of the Total Environment (STOTEN): Opportunities in the Water-Energy-Food Nexus Approach: Innovatively driving economic development, social well-being, and environmental sustainability.
The webinar represents the culmination of the experience of the Texas A&M University Water-Energy-Food Nexus Initiative (WEFNI) in creating a university-wide, four year, investigatory experience in support of planning for the water, energy, and food resource nexus in San Antonio and surrounding regions and as climate and urban growth alter water supplies. The System wide effort was led by Professor Rabi H. Mohtar, WEFNI Coordinator, TEES Research Professor, Texas A&M University, College Station Texas, and Dean, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS), American University of Beirut (AUB). Members of the Coordinating committee for the project include: Bruce McCarl, Kent E. Portney, Efstratios N. Pistikopoulos, Rudolph A. Rosen, Jack Baldauf, and David Baltensperger.
The webinar offered a discussion of the outcomes of 10 research articles reflecting the process of creating interdisciplinary teams and presenting an overview of the two-year period, during which the research was carried out. Thematic foci include data and modeling, trade-off analysis, water for food, water for energy, and governance. Prior to the publication of the Special Issue, two general stakeholder engagement meetings and several town halls were convened in an effort to better understand the challenges and the benefits of crossing disciplinary and sectoral boundaries to achieve a holistic understanding of the challenges facing resource management and allocation. The webinar also introduces the AUB initiative, led by Mohtar: The Water-Energy-Food-Health Nexus Renewable Resources Initiative, (WEFRAH). This initiative builds on the work begun at TAMU and paves the way for new collaborations, partnerships, and engagement between the two institutions per the recently signed AUB-TAMU MoU.
Lessons learned (in brief):
- System-of-systems quantification of water, energy, food, and related systems are similar across hotspots.
- Challenges posed are bound by local knowledge, physical constraints, and governance,
- Solutions must be contextualized locally
- Interdisciplinary teams are an iterative process that requires time and energy
- Interdisciplinary approaches to developing solutions expands opportunities for economic development and social well-being.
Some interesting stats: invitations were sent by email to more than 600 persons from the WEFNI and/or the AUB lists. The physical audience included about 100 persons in the two locations (Beirut and College Station). The online audience peaked at 153 persons, whose average listening time was 84 minutes.
Listeners included: Texas A&M, AUB, DOW Chemical Co., Conagua Mexico, Near East Foundation, World Food Program, University of Vermont, US-EPA, FEMSA (Coca-cola Mexico), University of Geneva, US-MENA, WSP Global, Spelman University (GA USA), GK4D (EU), University of Maryland, The GEF, World Economic Forum, UFRJ Energy Planning Program (Brazil), FAS-USDA, Georgia Tech, Global Communities, The Cyprus Institute, U Mass, Johns Hopkins U, Suez Group (Paris), Woolpert (USA), U Florida, New York University, Circle of Blue, United Nations, US Department of State, National Wildlife Federation, MEFOSA, United Nations University (Institute for Environment and Human Security), Florida A&M University, Purdue University, DAAD-Lebanon, NSF, Penn State University, Middle East Technical University (Turkey), Localized Water Solutions (USA), OK State U, and numerous additional sign-ins from gmail, yahoo, and other accounts.
Materials (papers and recording) the videos of the full discussion are also available at the Texas A&M WEFNI website.