Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES

Food and Water

How can we optimize - effectively, efficiently and equitably - food production and water distribution for current and future generations?

This inherently interdisciplinary question stimulates research spanning the social, physical, and biological sciences, and the humanities. Food and water resources are inextricably linked. Today, agricultural activities account for 70% of global water withdrawal, and large-scale land conversion for industrial-scale agriculture can also alter regional climates and water cycling. These uses degrade water quality as well as terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem health, posing important challenges to human health, ecosystem conservation, and aquaculture productivity. Food and water are also linked by their religious, symbolic, and cultural meanings that transcend the objective definition of ‘resources’, posing important ethical questions in balancing demands.

Brown researchers investigate food and water resources across the world in contexts as diverse as New England, Brazil, Mexico, India, sub-Saharan Africa, Australia and the Middle East. The Institute facilitates placed-based research in these core regions, and enables integration and cross-fertilization between research groups to better understand the relationships between food, water, and people through time. This important work at the nexus of food and water will allow us to answer critical questions, including, for example: What drives the transitions between food production systems in rapidly developing regions? What are the hydrological, climatic, economic and social consequences for these transitions?

For additional information, contact Theme Leader James_Russell@brown.edu

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