- Author: Chris M. Webb
California faces many complex challenges in the future. California must address these challenges to ensure a high quality of life, a healthy environment, and economic success for future generations.
The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resource ( UC ANR), a statewide network of UC researchers and educators dedicated to the creation, development, and application of knowledge in agricultural, natural, and human resources, recently released a Strategic Vision recognizing that California’s future depends on
- sustainable, nutritious, and safe food;
- clean, healthy, and sustainable places to live, work, and grow;
- resilient, biologically diverse, and healthy ecosystems;
- clean, secure, and sufficient supplies of water;
- cleaner and more secure energy;
- educated and engaged people; leaders prepared for and capable of making strategic decisions;
- innovative solutions and informed choices;
- economic opportunity and jobs.
The Strategic Vision identifies nine strategic initiatives as a start to address the challenges that face Californians. The following multidisciplinary, integrated initiatives represent the best opportunities for ANR’s considerable infrastructure and talent to seek new resources and new partnerships within and outside UC to find solutions for California.
The conceptual initiatives are:
1. Improve Water Quality, Quantity, and Security. Water is the life blood of California’s economy. As such, water supply and quality for agricultural, urban, and environmental systems is a critical issue facing the state over the next 20 years and beyond.
2. Enhance Competitive, Sustainable Food Systems. California agricultural competitiveness will depend upon adopting new scientific and technological innovations derived from new knowledge in agriculture and nutrition.
3. Increase Science Literacy in Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Nutrition. California is undergoing a remarkable social transformation driven by two forces that have shaped the state throughout history: dramatic demographic changes in the number, age, and diversity of the population and the impact of science and technology. Education will be a key contributor to the successful outcome of this transformation, providing the principal means of making informed decisions about complex issues.
4. Sustainable Natural Ecosystems. Population growth, coupled with climate and land use changes, are the most important issues that will affect California’s natural resources. Future urban and suburban growth is projected to shift more toward rangelands and forests.
5. Enhance the Health of Californians and California’s Agricultural Economy.
Improving the health of Californians, enhancing their quality of life, and reducing health care costs are critical to the future of California.
6. Healthy Families and Communities. The major challenge for our families, schools, and communities is to promote positive development of children, youth, and adults.
7. Ensure Safe and Secure Food Supplies. Food-borne illnesses affect one in four Americans annually, with higher rates in California. Food-borne illnesses place a burden on our health care system and reduce the productivity of our workforce. Food insecurity, which currently affects one in ten California households, places additional burdens on our health care system as poor nutrition is directly related to numerous human diseases and increased health care costs.
8. Manage Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases. Increases in the number and kinds of pests and diseases may negatively impact California agriculture, natural resources productivity, and ecosystem functions, affecting Californians’ quality of life.
9. Improve Energy Security and Green Technologies. California faces diminishing and more costly supplies of energy, which can be addressed in part by California’s vast agricultural and natural resource base.
The Ventura County UCCE office is already working on several of these initiatives that are within our area of expertise. Throughout the state, many other dedicated scientists, researchers, and program representatives are also working hard today for the future.