Roberto Lenton, whose career has centered on water management and development around the globe, has been named to lead the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska.
Lenton will also hold an appointment as professor of biological systems engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, according to NU President James. B. Milliken.
"Roberto Lenton is the ideal person to lead the Daugherty Institute as its founding director," Milliken says. "His experience in water management, food security, sustainable agriculture and responsible use of resources is exceptional. As important, he shares our vision for the institute and its potential to have an impact on Nebraska and on the world. He will help us leverage the excellent water research that our faculty has been involved in for many years, and establish the Daugherty Institute as a leader in research, education and policy related to water for food."
Keith Olsen, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, says, "This is great news for Nebraska. Lenton is recognized globally, but he also understands the importance of the Daugherty Institute working with producers in Nebraska. I was very impressed with the tremendous amount of knowledge he brings to the position."
Lenton currently serves as chairperson of the independent World Bank Inspection Panel, a vice presidential-level position within the World Bank organization. The Panel was established in 1993 to increase accountability of the World Bank and to improve compliance with its social and environmental policies. He has served as chair since 2009.
His appointment as executive director of the Water for Food Institute will begin Feb.1, 2012, after his current role as chairman of the Inspection Panel ends. He will remain a member of the panel until August 2012.
"The Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute has so much to build on," Lenton says, referring to its base at a leading land-grant university; its location in Nebraska, known as an innovator of good policies and practices in agricultural water management; and the talent of its faculty and research staff in water and food security issues.
Native Nebraskan Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a member of the board of directors of the Daugherty Institute, says Lenton is a widely recognized leader in the world in water circles.
The institute was established in 2010 through a $50 million founding gift from the Robert B. Daugherty Charitable Foundation. Daugherty, founder of Valmont Industries and a pioneer in the irrigation industry, died in November 2010. The institute is a university-wide, interdisciplinary research, education and policy analysis center dedicated to the efficient use of the world’s freshwater resources to feed a growing global population, according to Milliken.
The institute will focus on building international partnerships with universities and ministries to help develop solutions for the optimal use of water in agriculture. At the institute’s annual conference last May, the University of Nebraska agreed to establish a joint program with UNESCO IHE in the Netherlands, the world’s largest graduate program in management of water.