S-B5 Community Resilience and Sustainability at the Nexus

Some U.S. communities are flourishing, while others are struggling to revitalize in the face of urban sprawl and infrastructure decay. But all communities share a basic challenge: balancing the need for long-term sustainability and economic prosperity with the need for resilience and adaptive capacity in the face of turbulent change. In particular, many cities are concerned about the stresses associated with the food-energy-water nexus. Dwindling water resources can disrupt business continuity including energy and food production, while increasing climate volatility can disrupt the supply of all these critical resources.

Human adaptation to climate change may produce unexpected consequences that exacerbate the challenge of the nexus. For example, with the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, people may migrate from coastal or drought-stricken communities to less vulnerable regions such as the midwestern U.S. This will raise land prices, increase stresses on food-energy-water systems, and place a greater burden on local ecosystem services. The knowledge required to understand and manage these complex interdependencies is still emerging, and requires a blend of natural sciences, economics, social sciences, and information technology.

This panel of experts will discuss how communities can adapt to the challenges of the nexus, how the uncertainties can be addressed through an integrated systems approach, and how both government and industry groups are responding to the need for resilience and sustainability.


  • Joseph Fiksel, Executive Director, Sustainable and Resilient Economy Program, Discovery Themes, The Ohio State University
  • Richard Moore, Senior Fellow, National Council for Science and the Environment and Professor Emeritus, School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University


  • Russell Callender, Acting Assistant Administrator, Oceans and Coastal Services, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Casey Hoy, Kellogg Chair in Agroecosystem Management and Faculty Director, Initiative for Food and Agricultural Transformation, The Ohio State University
  • Louie Tupas, Deputy Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Peter Williams, Chief Technology Officer, Big Green Innovations, IBM Corporation

Joseph Fiksel integrates university-wide capabilities, recruits new faculty members, and works with external business and government partners to enable development of sustainable and resilient production and consumption systems. In order to capture the interdependencies among economic, social, and natural capital, he developed the Triple Value framework, adopted by the U.S. EPA for system-level modeling of sustainable solutions. In October 2015, Ohio State hosted a workshop, sponsored by NSF, entitled “Human Adaptations to Climate Change: Impacts on the Resilience of Regional Food, Energy, and Water Systems,” which produced a research agenda for investigating the food-energy-water nexus. (614-226-5678; fiksel.2@osu.edu)

Richard Moore has been on the executive committee for the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors since 2012. At The Ohio State University (OSU) he served as executive director of the Environmental Sciences Network from 2011 to 2015. He designed and helped implement the first water quality trading project in Ohio that has been running since 2007 and is expanding to cover a quarter of the State of Ohio. As an anthropologist bridging the natural and social sciences, he is the leader for the Sugar Creek water quality project which teamed farmers and researchers to improve the local water quality. He was active in the Kuwait Climate Conference and is presently a PI on the USDA grant “Climate Change, Mitigation, and Adaptation in Corn-based Cropping Systems”. (330-202-3538; moore.11@osu.edu)

Russell Callender’s work focuses on a critical piece of NOAA’s portfolio which addresses ecological forecasting and research on harmful algal blooms, which impact food and water quality, as well as ecosystem health. He will discuss how the National Ocean Service is playing a leading role in promoting natural capital and demonstrating how critical natural systems are for overall community resilience. Natural systems and coastal ecosystems contribute to food and infrastructure security, as well as protect energy assets along our coasts. (301-713-3074; Russell.Callender@noaa.gov)

Casey Hoy’s work involves interdisciplinary leadership and work with scientists in many disciplines devoted to simultaneous ecological, economic, and social improvements in agricultural ecosystems toward advancements in agroecosystem health and sustainable communities. He also leads InFACT, the Ohio State University Discovery Themes Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation, which seeks transformational solutions to resilient and sustainable food security in Ohio, the nation, and the globe. (330-263-3611; hoy.1@osu.edu)

Dr. Louie Tupas is responsible for providing leadership for Bioenergy, Climate and Environmental Systems at the Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture. This USDA agency provides support for extramural research, education, and Extension in the food, agricultural, and environmental sciences to meet major needs and challenges in food and agricultural system productivity; development of new food, fiber, and energy sources; agricultural energy use and production; sustainable natural resources use; promotion of the health and welfare of people; human nutrition; and international food and agriculture. In addition, Louie’s role is to help forge linkages with universities and colleges, stakeholders, and beneficiaries and other organizations including scientific and professional associations, research foundations, industries, and other government agencies. (202-401-4926; ltupas@nifa.usda.gov)

Peter Williams’ focus areas are resilience to natural disasters and chronic stresses; Smarter Cities, with special reference to water management, covering entire water resources (such as entire rivers or aquifers), utility infrastructures, and enterprise water management; and cloud computing for government. Dr. Williams has had a major role in developing the intellectual foundation for IBM’s “Smarter Planet” and “Smarter Cities” initiatives, and in identifying and integrating their technological components—both IBM-originated and from outside the company. (925-648-7975; peter.r.williams@us.ibm.com)

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