In 2050, 9 billion people are expected to live on our planet. Two billion more than now and that within three decades. This requires a rigorous transition. More food is needed of better quality, with less negative impact on the environment. This is one of the biggest challenges of our time. Your students have the knowledge and technology available to come up with solutions for this enormous challenge. Do you challenge them to come up with these solutions? Join the student project for a better world: Wageningen Borlaug Youth Institute.

The Wageningen Borlaug Youth Institute is an initiative of Wageningen University & Research. Through a competition, high school students are challenged to think interdisciplinary, researching, international and creative. Students can participate with their high school paper, one of the projects of the Food Valley Netwerk and with this assignment. Assign your pupils to the competition and / or contact us to discuss tailor-made options for your school.

Why participate?

  • Students can join the competition and win a trip to the Global Youth Institute in the United States during the final.
  • Students work on sustainability issues of the future in a fun, practical way.
  • Students are already in touch with scientific research and Wageningen University & Research.

Especially for you as a teacher

  • Receive extra training on research methods and innovations in science.

How to participate?

The Wageningen Borlaug Youth Institute offers guidance to entire classes, groups of students and individuals. The aim is to inspire students to contribute to the world food issue in innovative ways, to guide them in a scientific way and to offer them a platform to express their solutions. Students can participate with their high school paper test, one of the projects of the Food Valley Netwerk and with this assignment.

If you contact us, we can try to tailor our offer to your question.

Criteria en assessment

Criteria competition 2019

  • Paper must be completed in 2019.
  • Paper must be assessed with at least a pass.
  • Paper must be related to the world food issue.
  • Paper, summary, advice and vlog should be submitted before 15 march 2019.


  • Evaluated on the basis of the following criteria: interdisciplinary, scientific, impactful, creative and presentation.
  • Reviewed by a jury of Wageningen scientists (to be announced).

Content criteria

  • Interdisciplinary

  • Scientific

    • Research is reliable

    • Outcomes are underpinned

  • Impact/application

    • Plan has a target group

    • Plan is realistic

    • Plan can have a big impact

  • Creativity

    • Het idea is original

  • Presentation

    • Advice is clearly shown in the advice and the vlog

    • Good and relevant visual material

    • Clear presentation at the final

    • Good reaction during the discussions at the final

    • Enthusiastic, creative and critical attitude on the final

Important data

Tuesday 12 February 2019: Workshop day tips & tricks for vlogging and writing advice based on your work.

15 March 2019: Deadline handing in paper, summary, advice and vlog for participants 2019.

11 April 2019: Final Wageningen Borlaug Youth Institute 2018/2019 during the Agro Food Robotics conference at Wageningen University & Research.

October 2019: Global Youth Institute (Des Moines, USA) for winning student (s) 2019.

The world food issue as topic

The world issue is a broad concept. Because the world population is growing, it becomes more difficult to feed all mouths. In 2050 the world population is expected to reach 9 billion, no less than 2 billion more than at present. There are many different questions among the world food issues, five important ones: How do we distribute the available food fairly? How can we increase the food supply? How can we combat environmental pollution? How do we ensure safe and healthy food for everyone? At first sight it may seem appropriate to fit a number of courses, but it may suit all subjects. Several examples are described below:


In geography you can think of deforestation caused by the need for palm oil, but also sustainable supply chains, fair trade, sustainable agriculture and ways to prevent overfishing, to prevent environmental pollution and to increase the food supply. You can also think of solutions for natural disasters and (international) conflicts, but also possibilities for improving the infrastructure and reducing corruption for a better allocation of food. 


Biology is often thought because it relates to human health. Here you can think of ways to tackle limited eating patterns. In addition, you can look at saline and sustainable agriculture and ways to recycle to prevent environmental pollution. You can also think of algae application possibilities or ways to conserve food in order to increase the food supply.


In economics you can think of ways for fair trade to distribute the food more fairly across the globe. You can also think of sustainable supply chains or ways to recycle to ensure less environmental pollution. Furthermore, it is interesting to look at consumer behavior regarding food.

Philosophy / social sciences

In philosophy or social sciences you can see if it is a solution if nobody would eat meat in 2050. Considering these subjects you can also think of developing a food app. Is this the future and does the nutrition app ensure that we have healthy and safe food in the future? You can also conduct research into new distribution technologies and the possibilities for, for example, CRISPR-CAS and GMOs. Furthermore, 'Big Data' is emerging, you can look at whether this is a solution for the world food issue. 


In history we can learn a lot from the past what we can apply in the present. The course history can also be linked to the world food issue. What did people do in the past with regard to the world food problem and how can we learn from that? For example, what happened to our dietary pattern and the trade of food during the plague epidemic in the 14th century? You can also conduct research on the historical backgrounds during the 'green revolution'. Why does this revolution seem to have skipped Africa and how can Africa go along with the new (technological) developments?


In physics you can look at how we can use energy optimally so that we can increase the food supply. In addition, you can do research in physics on possibilities for printing food in 3D in the future. You can see if this is possible and if this is a solution for the food shortage that might come in the future.


In chemistry you can look at bioplastic, green energy and ways to recycle to prevent environmental pollution. In addition, you can think of possibilities to make food more nutritious so that more mouths can be fed. You can also do research on genetic modification to get a larger food supply.

You can see that the world food issue fits many perspectives and courses. The topics are not necessarily course-specific, but as many students write their paper in one course, we have clustered a number of topics per course. However, Wageningen University & Research encourages students to think cross-curricular and to make connections with other courses (within their profile) in order to achieve an interdisciplinary research. For more information about the topics, please visit this page.