J-WAFS conference reflects growing interest in food and water research
The MIT community turned out in force, along with attendees from the corporate, government, and nonprofit sectors, for the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security’s first major event, on April 27-28. Organized around a theme of innovation and collaboration, the conference highlighted the growing need for creative, cross-sector problem solving to address significant global food and water security issues.
By 2050, the world’s population is projected to reach 9.6 billion people. To meet the global food demand, as much as 70% more food must be produced in 2050 than is produced today, and according to the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), the number of countries facing water stress or scarcity by 2050 could rise to 54 (40% of the projected global population). Based on data by the OECD, this represents a 55% increase in water demand. The clear challenge is how to meet these growing food and water needs.
At the conference, the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security lab at MIT (J-WAFS) was introduced by Director John Lienhard, as MIT’s Institute-wide initiative to coordinate and lead research related to water and food. J-WAFS organized the program, to showcase innovative water, food, and agriculture technologies under development at MIT, including current research and numerous startups with MIT affiliations.
Following the conference, the final event for the new Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize was held. Sponsored by J-WAFS, the business plan competition distributed US$ 25,000 in prize money to three winning student teams. The following week, J-WAFS awarded US$ 1.3 million in its second round of seed grant funding. Principal investigators will receive grants of up to US$ 100,000 annually for up to two years for innovative research on food and water challenges.
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