Recommendations for a WUR wide strategy on circularity in refugee settings

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) executed a study into sustainable design principles for refugee camps in 2016. This was the starting point for a line of thinking around green and circular solutions to improve living conditions and livelihood opportunities in and around refugee camps, and reduce the (environmental) pressure of refugee camps on the hosting region.

In the period 2017-2019, the WUR hosted the Changing Routes seminar every year on World Refugee Day: an event with external parties to discuss how research could contribute to the refugee crisis. The WUR organised additionally a number of creative sessions with research, private, NGO partners to develop potential business cases around circular solutions for refugee camps. This resulted in the report “Circular Refugee Camps; Co-creating meaningful business”.

Wageningen University & Research has the ambition to follow up these initiatives. WUR has gained a lot of experience in circular agriculture and connected domains of social, economic and environmental sustainability of food systems in Europe and developing countries. These insights are relevant for the refugee context too.

Therefore the following steps will be undertaken:

  1. A proper mapping of the internal expertise and concepts available within WUR, which have potential significance for refugee camp settings (or similar: e.g. slum areas), at both research groups and university chairs.
  2. A market study researching the demands of typical humanitarian aid organisations: where do they experience gaps in technologies or services, related to food, energy and water in refugee camps and in their external, hosting environment? Which sustainable/circular technologies and services are already being offered and which ones lack? What is the impact of existing offerings on the hosting area?
  3. An analysis of gaps versus expertise offering.
  4. A proposition for the role of the WUR in ‘humanitarian innovation sector’. Recommendations for building up this position and potential next steps.