Contact: Ryan Alaniz

Cal Poly to Host International United Nations University Conference on Drought Resilience

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Ryan Alaniz, a professor in Cal Poly’s Social Sciences Department, is coordinating an important United Nations University conference about drought to Cal Poly in October.

Disaster by Drought 2015, to run Oct. 5-9, will address how communities can develop resilience in the face of slow-onset disasters.

David Wrathall of the United Nations Institute for Environment and Human Security will deliver the keynote address. The conference will include panels, workshops, and Learn by Doing field trips to give participants a firsthand look at how different communities, businesses and individuals are coping with the drought. Several events throughout the week will be open to public participation.

Toward the end of the week, participants will gather to discuss strategies and plan concrete steps communities can take to mitigate the worst effects of the drought.

“We are thrilled to host such an amazing event,” said Eloise Armour, the executive research assistant for the conference and a recent Cal Poly sociology and global politics graduate. “It represents a unique opportunity for Cal Poly students, scholars, and community members to be involved in a crucial international summit.”

Climatologists suggest California is facing its most severe drought in 1,200 years. In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared a statewide drought emergency and, according to National Geographic magazine, 430,000 acres of farmland will be left fallow this year because of drought.

“Scientists predict that drought conditions in California will be the new normal,” Alaniz said. “Our goal is to utilize the diverse perspectives of United Nations University scholars, Cal Poly faculty, and local community leaders to develop holistic community- resilience strategies.”

The drought touches almost every sector of the local community – farmers, agricultural workers, food processors, retailers, and the general public. Hotter, dryer conditions also put pressure on utilities and present public health risks.

For more information about the conference, email Alaniz at or call 805-756-6261. Additional information, including photos, is also available at the

Disaster by Drought 2015 Conference website at

 About the Cal Poly Social Sciences Department

At Cal Poly, the Social Sciences Department focuses on practical training and critical thinking skills. The department offers degrees in anthropology-geography and sociology, with the opportunity to concentrate in a specific focus area. Students are taught to bridge the gap between classroom learning and the real world through internships, study abroad opportunities, service learning, and senior projects.


— Cal Poly Disaster by Drought website:
— Cal Poly Social Sciences Department:
— Conference ticket reservations:
— United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security:


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