Sustainability Science Program

Integrated Use of Land and Water Resources

Integrated Use of Land and Water Resources

The Integrated Use of Land and Water Resources Initiative focuses on the sustainable use of land and water resources in the face of competing demands for food, energy, health, and ecosystem services. We are particularly interested in the impact of water-related shocks and stresses (e.g., drought, flooding) on food production and food security. More broadly, we seek to understand the opportunities and limits of agronomic, economic and institutional strategies to adapt to and mitigate the impact of water-related risks. The scope of this initiative extends from evaluation of the efficacy of traditional strategies for managing water-related risks in subsistence agriculture to a consideration of contemporary options such as weather insurance, the development of drought resistant varieties and land use practices that reduce the covariance of weather and yields, improved prediction technologies to allow adaptation, and irrigation and rainwater harvesting technologies that can be deployed by individual households, small groups of households, or require larger scale cooperation and rely on particular institutions and social norms. We also consider interactions between agricultural and non-agricultural water use, including innovative social mechanisms that may control tendencies for both water withdrawal and water pollution to disrupt agricultural systems.