The Food-Water-Energy Nexus and the Challenge to Sustainability

Water Lecture Series

Peter P. Rogers, Gordon McKay Research Professor of Environmental Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Moderator: Joanna Aizenberg, director of the science program of Academic Ventures at the Radcliffe Institute, the Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, professor of chemistry and chemical biology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, a director of the Kavli Institute for Bionanoscience, and a founding core faculty member at the Wyss Institute

Over the past few decades the world has undergone five major global transitions around the nexus of food, water, and energy. These transitions include urban population transition, with the majority of the global population now residing in cities; nutrition transition, with demand for new foodstuffs that rely on increased consumption of animal products and other high-value foods; climate transition, with increased temperature and uncertain water supplies; agricultural transition, with huge increases in food demands; and energy transition, with a move from cheap fossil fuels to renewable energy resources. These changes have happened so fast that well-tried solutions and historically based planning to water-management problems are no longer viable. The result is a mismatch between populations and available resources. In his talk, Rogers will explore this ever-developing nexus and its challenge to sustainability.

Lecture is free and open to the public. Doors open at 4:45 p.m.; lecture begins at 5 p.m.

A member the Harvard faculty since 1967, Peter P. Rogers was also a member of the Harvard Center for Population Studies and the Harvard University Center for the Environment. His research interests lie within the broad subject of natural resources, including the con­sequences of population on natural resources development; improved methods for managing natural resources and the environment; the development of robust indices of environmental quality and sustainable development; conflict resolution in international river basins; the impacts of global change on water resources; and transportation and the environment with an emphasis on Asian cities. He has carried out extensive field and model studies on population, water and energy resources, and environmental problems in Bangladesh, China, Costa Rica, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and, to a lesser extent, in 25 other countries.

Rogers is the coauthor or coeditor of Running Out of Water: The Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), An Introduction to Sustainable Development (Earthscan, 2008), and Water Crisis: Myth or Reality (Taylor & Francis, 2006). He was a volume editor for Treatise on Water Science (Elsevier Science Limited, 2011).

Rogers has been the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships. He is a recipient of Guggen­heim, Maass-White, Twentieth Century Fund, and Wenner-Gren Foundation fellowships and of the Warren A. Hall Medal, presented by the Universities Council on Water Resources. He is also a senior advisor to the Global Water Partner­ship and a member of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists and the American Society of Civil Engineers; a life member of the Indian Society of Agricultural Engineers; and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received the 2010 Julian Hinds Award from the Environmental & Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers.


Rogers, P., K. Jalal, and J. Boyd, An Introduction to Sustainable Development, 2nd Ed., Earthscan, London, UK, 2008.

Rogers, P., and S. Leal, Running out of Water: The Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource, MacMillan, New York, 2010.

Rogers, P., “Coping with Global Warming and Climate Change,” invited editorial, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, 134, No. 3, pp. 203–204, May (2008).

Rogers, P., “Facing the Freshwater Crisis,” invited paper, Scientific American, Vol. 299, pp. 48–53, August (2008).

Rogers, P., “Water-Energy Nexus: Sustainable Urbanization in the Greater Mekong Subregion,”Balancing Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability, Asian Development Bank, pp. 145–154, 2012.

The Radcliffe Institute is hosting a new cross-disciplinary speaker series by Harvard faculty on topics related to water. These will be relatively informal presentations, followed by discussion with attendees, on topics that approach water from multidisciplinary perspectives. The collegial events are intended to present, and potentially to link, faculty interests, in order to learn more about research currently underway and to foster connections across Harvard schools.

The talks will focus on both national and international topics. They may include issues of water policy, treatment and management, technology, water and migration, water and religion, urban planning, hydrology, water and business, art and water, environmental law, public health and disease, water and conflict, land-use, economic growth, history, etc. The speaker series is designed to be multidisciplinary rather than solely scientific and to complement other offerings throughout the University.