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This NSF-sponsored Convergence Accelerator workshop “Sustainable Systems Enabling Food Security in Extreme Environments and Food Deserts employing a Convergence of Food, Energy, Water and Systems” focuses on ensuring sustainable food production systems and achieving food security in extreme environments.

Workshop topics include:

  • Food Security

  • Sustainable Systems and Agriculture

  • Renewable Energy and Sustainable Water Resources

  • Sustainable, Integrated and Smart Systems

  • Social Engagement, Policy, and Education


The workshop’s overall objective is to accelerate convergence of sustainable food systems through a facilitated convening of vested stakeholders from academia, industry, government agencies, NGOs, and foundations.

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Questions we want to answer

  • How can we realize a sustainable, food secure society, employing an accelerated convergence of food, energy, water and systems technologies?

  • How can we realize an affordable food secure society sustainably in extreme environments and food deserts?

  • How do we collaborate with policy makers and other leaders to identify politically viable and socially acceptable solutions?

  • How can we determine which food products are most desirable to food insecure populations given local environmental constraints?

  • How can we incorporate education, re-education and workforce development for jobs creation?

The need

Deserts and food deserts are both examples of extreme environments.​

Deserts cover about 33 percent of the world's land area – arid areas characterized by harsh climates, salt-affected soils and a lack of fresh water. Socio-economic conditions play a vital role in these living environments, were resource degradation and desertification are major challenges.

23.5 million people in the U.S. live in food deserts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported in 2010. Food deserts are areas with limited access to nutritious and affordable food. The increasing demand for food, water, and energy resources in the face of a changing climate and continued population growth make these vital resources increasingly scarce.

One of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to “end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” This can be accomplished by doubling agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, and by ensuring sustainable food production systems.

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NSF Convergence Accelerator

This workshop is a product of the Convergence Accelerator (C-Accel), within the Office of Integrative Activities at the National Science Foundation, a brand-new initiative designed to accelerate use-inspired convergence research through partnerships between academia, industry, non-profits, government, and other sectors. 

The NSF Convergence Accelerator’s mission is to address national-scale societal challenges through use-inspired convergence research. Using a convergence approach, the Accelerator integrates multidisciplinary research and innovation processes to transition basic research and discovery toward impactful solutions.

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