Remarks at the Water, Energy, Food Security Nexus Conference

National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad | February 16, 2016

(As Prepared for Delivery)

It is an honor to join you today. Thanks go to Federal Minister Professor Ahsan Iqbal and to NUST Rector Engineer Muhammad Asghar for their leadership on the today’s topic. Thank you for inviting me here today. The efforts to organize this event made by Dr. Hamza Farooq Gabriel and Dr. Kamran Akhtar deserve recognition, too. All of us at the American Embassy are pleased at the chance to collaborate with NUST to launch this conference.

Water, energy, and food: three basic components of life. When we reach for a glass of water, turn on a light, or sit down to lunch, most of us don’t give a thought to how that water, or that light, or that food got to us. But this audience knows well that complex processes were at work to bring us those essential elements. Demographics and climate change are straining those processes.

There are some estimates that by 2030 we could face a worldwide water shortfall of 40%; even if that doesn’t come to pass, there is no question our water resources are under pressure. In the next 15 years, it is projected that we will also need 50% more food and 40% more energy for our growing global population. There can be no doubt, together we need to generate new ideas, new partnerships, and innovative solutions to this challenge.

Pakistan, like America and every other country, is vulnerable to climate change. You are the first to know the impact of a tough cycle of droughts and floods on the agricultural sector here, so central to your economy. The situation could worsen as the climate changes. And you are not alone. Over the past few years, California has had a devastating drought. Much of the American West relies on snowpack to replenish its water supply; for four consecutive years before this one, snowfall was far below normal.

The challenge in California is one Pakistanis are familiar with, and many of the answers apply to both economies. We are committed to working with Pakistan on renewable energy, improved water management, and the sustainable use of resources.

One example of our joint effort is the initiative last year to create Centers for Advanced Studies. The centers promote university partnerships, establish advanced academic and research centers, and develop solutions and policy recommendations for Pakistan’s water, energy, and food security needs. These new centers focus on public-private partnerships, bringing together academic, government, business, and industry expertise to develop solutions. These centers show the value of integrated thinking to address interconnected issues.

Innovation and cooperation are at the heart of today’s conference. These issues respect no borders, so neither can the solutions. America and Pakistan are building a strong partnership to the benefit of the social and economic stability of both of our societies.

Thank you.