The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) will host the four-day Southwest Drought Virtual Forum on September 21-22 and 28-29. The forum will assemble stakeholders, decision makers, and drought experts for a cross-cutting dialogue on worsening drought conditions in the American Southwest. Participants will address the response and relief efforts across levels of government and sectors, with the goal of supporting communities impacted by ongoing water scarcity and building long-term drought resilience in the region.
The Forum will include introductory remarks by Dr. Richard Spinrad, NOAA Administrator, on Day 1. The first day will be recorded and posted on NIDIS’s YouTube channel, and will be open to press. Highlights of the Forum agenda will also include keynote addresses from Eric Kuhn, former General Manager for the Colorado River District, and Will Sarni, an internationally recognized thought leader on water strategy and innovation.
On the second day of the Forum, a Federal panel of leaders from NOAA (Karen Hyun), DOI, USDA, EPA, and FEMA will discuss how “New and Innovative Federal Government Initiatives Can Help Decision Making Within the New Paradigm in the Southwest.” The panel will provide an overview of the Interagency Drought Relief Working Group established by President Biden to address worsening drought conditions in the West and support farmers, Tribes, and communities impacted by ongoing water shortages, as well as the National Drought Resilience Partnership (NDRP). Panelists will discuss the work being done across the Federal government to address long-term drought in the region, and the resources available to build more drought-resilient communities.
Finally, a closing panel offering paths forward for a sustainable and healthy West will include perspectives from leaders including: David Hayes from the White House; Alice Hill from the Council on Foreign Relations; John Fleck from the University of New Mexico; and Bidtah Becker from the Navajo Nation.
The forum objectives include:
Exploring the questions:
- How did we get here?
- How bad is the drought and when will it end?
- What has been accomplished to mitigate drought impacts?
- What innovations are needed to achieve drought resilience?
- How do we work together to realize new opportunities?
Realizing an exchange of information:
- State-to-state and local best practices .
- Innovative ideas to build drought resilience in the region, including for the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems.
- Timely, relevant Federal resources to support long-term drought resilience strategies.
- Recommendations for collaborative actions that bring additional resources and solutions to bear to address drought across the Southwest.