UPDATE AUG. 25, 2015 — Registration for iSEE Congress 2015 will close Sept. 4. Please reserve a spot now using our online form.
MAY 4, 2015 — The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) has set its second annual international conference to address a most basic human need: clean, fresh water.
The 2015 iSEE Congress, “Water Planet, Water Crises? Meeting the World’s Water-Food-Energy Needs Sustainably,” is set for Sept. 14-16, 2015, in the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. Registration is free and now open via our web form.
“There is increasing recognition of the complex interconnectedness between water resources, food and energy production, and the need for new strategies for enabling interdisciplinary knowledge and systems-thinking to significantly address global water crises,” said Madhu Khanna, iSEE’s Associate Director for Education and Outreach. “Water is demanded for itself and as a critical input for energy and food production, leading to an interaction between water, food and energy resources — and efforts to address one will impact the other two.
“Water is used not only for human needs but also to maintain ecosystem services, which in turn affects human livelihoods and well-being. There is also increasing evidence that climate change is leading to increased hydrologic variability with a significant impact on the hydrologic cycle, water availability — and water demand at the global, regional, and local levels.”
Addressing these challenges across national and regional boundaries requires coordinated action by researchers, and government and non-government organizations — in conjunction with industry practitioners. Multinational companies have become major participants in the water sector, which is rapidly leading to globalization of water resources.
“Water insecurity is a complex problem, and international discourse needs to be broadened to include water governance to create more comprehensive solutions,” Khanna said. “The threat to economic growth, food security, and energy security due to water-related human and ecosystem vulnerability is creating a critical need for technological innovations to increase water conservation.”
“Water Planet, Water Crises? Meeting the World’s Water-Food-Energy Needs Sustainably” will provide a forum to not only discuss the challenges of global water availability but also to highlight an agenda for actionable research, said Evan DeLucia, Director of iSEE. The conference is being organized by iSEE and campus water scholars.
“Our Institute’s role is to foster ‘uncommon dialogues’ like this one — bringing together experts in several disciplines to potentially form research collaborations,” DeLucia said. “Open discussions like this can help us go beyond disciplinary boundaries and get us directly to real-world problem-solving.”
The workshop will include scholars from multiple disciplines and industry leaders as speakers and as audience members. Its goals are to provide opportunities for coalescing the community of water scholars, to facilitate two-way transfer of knowledge between academic researchers and industry practitioners, and to develop public-private partnerships to find long-term solutions to the growing water crises.
iSEE Congress 2015 will feature six sessions, two keynote addresses, and a networking event. The sessions on Day 1 will focus on the nexus among food-water-energy systems, the computational tools and state-of-the-art research addressing this nexus under a changing climate, and implications for human health and ecosystem services. On Day 2, sessions will address the role that technology, policy, and improved governance can play in finding actionable solutions to addressing the global water crises. Graduate and undergraduate students have been invited to present posters.
iSEE would also like instructors teaching courses related to the theme of Water and Sustainability to encourage their students to attend the conference.
“By providing a forum to foster innovative and focused scientific exchange among researchers, industry leaders, and students, our iSEE Congress will stimulate greater recognition of the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to water-related challenges and the potential for public/private partnerships for future research while educating the next generation of water scholars and preparing them to address this grand challenge of sustainable use of water resources,” Khanna said.