The FEWSTERN Research Challenge Meeting will be held December 7-9, 2017 at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs in Franklin, Tennessee USA. This first meeting has three overarching goals:
- Network: Bring together experts in the areas of food, energy, and water systems (FEWS) and establish a US-China Transdisciplinary Environmental Research Coordination Network.
- Roadmap: Identify key FEWS research topics to address environmental problems that will challenge societies in the near future to meet FEWS goals.
- Action: Facilitate the building of international, transdisciplinary, collaborative research teams that identify critical research areas and prepare proposals addressing these FEWS grand challenges.
To facilitate the goals outlined above, the symposium will feature six breakout workshops. Breakout participants will work to answer the following set of questions:
- What are the appropriate models? Do such models exist? Do the experimentalists believe that these models are adequately parameterized?
- What kind of sensitivity analysis exists and what is needed to improve such analyses? Should directed and guided investments in experimental research be encouraged?
- Are feedbacks and exchanges fully identified for long term environmental consequences?
- How do we sustain a continuous dialog among users, experimentalists, modelers, and stakeholders?
- Are the model outputs and technology solutions understandable to a broad range of stakeholders (industry, government, the public, NGOs, etc.)?
Researchers participating in this FEWS workshop, which was organized in Knoxville, Tennessee on August 25, 2017 by the University of Tennessee, have identified a broad range of general issues critical to the interactions of FEWS with environmental concerns. These issues were summarized in a general manner to direct the decision of the following six topical session areas. These topics are fluid and subject to broad and specific clarification by the conference participants in December. Each session is expected to create a discussion of the environmentally relevant issues that either drive the topic or significantly impact the topic area. The ultimate goal is for the participants to define critical environmental concerns and research programs that assist in elucidating a FEWS nexus that is environmentally sustainable and optimal.
- Topic 1: Model development, refinement, and uncertainty; scalable implementation in food production, distribution, use, and waste chain
Breakout Workshop 1 assesses the improvement of existing models and/or development of new models to manage the efficient production, distribution, utilization, and recycling of agricultural goods, and identifies shortcomings that limit their scalable implementation across agricultural systems and societal frameworks as well as their adaptability to environmental and socio-economic changes.
- Topic 2: Implications of future food, feed, and bio-feedstock production from degraded, fallow, and non-arable lands on the FEW nexus
Breakout Workshop 2 assesses the food-feed-fuel complex, considering the intensified use of marginal lands and the restoration of land productivity and ecosystem services.
- Topic 3: Best practices and technology needs for sustainable food production in the built and urban environment
Breakout Workshop 3 identifies challenges and opportunities related to sustainable food production in urban areas and megacities and discusses whether urban agriculture is the future of food security.
- Topic 4: Nutrient control and resource utilization and the need for scalable precision production
Breakout Workshop 4 explores opportunities to achieve sustainable intensification of agricultural production that can sustain a growing world population without further degradation of environmental resources.
- Topic 5: Cost and efficiency of water and wastewater reuse and reclamation in safe food production
Breakout Workshop 5 discusses innovations in the areas of water conservation, distribution, storage, and reuse through decentralized treatment, intelligent storm water management, wastewater recycling, artificial wetland development, and ecological engineering.
- Topic 6: Societal acceptance of new technology, management practices and hidden cost transfers
Breakout Workshop 6 identifies societal and political barriers hindering the implementation of technological innovations, and discusses FEWS solutions that would facilitate the rapid deployment of new knowledge and theory.