Citing the need for heightened interest in water availability globally, Dr. Rabi Mohtar, biological and agricultural engineering professor at Texas A&M University, took center stage March 24 at Vatican City as part of Watershed, a conference to spark global conversations of the importance of water and the future.
Pope Francis addressed the general audience in Saint Peter’s Square highlighting the importance of water and urged the Watershed conference to action around water values. The Watershed conference followed with a welcome session and first technical session on the water nexus, where Mohtar’s keynote addressed the interconnectivity of the water system before more than 400 international leaders over over 80,000 Facebook viewers.
“I was invited by the organizer, Pontifical Council for Culture, Vatican, the club of Rome and Circle of Blue to speak on the water values and the water nexus,” Mohtar said. “The stage and the venue is critical with tens of thousands and probably many more tuned in to listen. It was a great opportunity to reach and disseminate the water value and the need for collective action. Our message that the water issue needs a holistic nexus approach is getting attention.”
While water is a local issue, it’s also a global challenge, he said.
“The issue of water is very unique in a sense it is a local issue but the implication and impact for water scarcity and food security are global,” he said. “It can only be addressed with global coalitions. Texas A&M and the Texas A&M University System Water Energy Food Nexus initiative has the opportunity and the responsibility to help in the journey towards disseminating good science that will impact policy makers, industry and public practices on ways to reduce the stresses to our water system.”
Mohtar is leading the Texas A&M University System Water, Energy, Food Nexus, a project that brings together broad expertise in engineering, agriculture, policy, geosciences, behavioral sciences, law and others to help bridge the anticipated water gap in Texas and abroad. Mohtar spoke at the White House Water Summit held last spring. More information about the project is available at http://wefnexusinitiative.tamu.edu/.
“The WEFN is a platform for a system level approach has and continues to receive attention for its role in social, economic and environmentallysustainable solutions to the local and global water challenges,” he said. “Questions related to governance and implementation of this system level approach were dominant in the live and virtual discussion during and following the session.”
Mohtar said there are plans to organize the global community by the Vatican and the meeting organizer “to move forward” in the areas of education, resource management, funding, communication, collaborations, water security and quality, and governance.
“The universities, especially in the U.S., are least engaged in this process and I believe we have a lot to offer,” he said. “I hope Texas A&M will be leading some of these imperatives towards a global impact.”
By Blair Fannin | AgriLife Today