Dies Natalis 2014 - Changing environments, challenges for rural-urban developments

'Changing environments, challenges for rural-urban developments' was the theme of the 96th Dies Natalis (anniversary) of Wageningen University on 10 March 2014. The effects of climate change and urbanisation have a major impact on the availability of water and other vital resources, like food and energy.

Key note speakers at this Dies Natalis celebration were Rachel Kyte, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, and Huub Rijnaarts, professor of Environmental Water Technology at Wageningen University. Rector Magnificus Martin Kropff spoke about changes in education: worldwide the number of students following higher education is growing from 100 million in the year 2000 to 400 million in 2030. IT is making this possible. Universities are offering more and more courses online. Wageningen University will start with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in September 2014, Kropff announced. And in 2015, two full MSc courses will become available online, he added.

More about the speakers

Martin Kropff

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Martin Kropff is Rector Magnificus of Wageningen University and Vice-president of Wageningen University and Research Centre. He completed his Master’s in biology at Utrecht University and his PhD at Wageningen University, both cum laude.

After his PhD, he went to the Philippines to lead the international programme on systems analysis and simulation of the International Rice Research Institute for a period of four years.

He returned to Wageningen University to become professor in, what is now called, the chair group of Crop and Weed Ecology.

From 1998 to 2002 he was scientific director of the C.T. de Wit graduate school.

Rachel Kyte

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Rachel Kyte became Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank in September, 2011. As such, her overall responsibilities include the organisation’s global work in agriculture, environment, energy, infrastructure, urban, and social development, along with global public goods issues in those areas. Prior to her appointment, she was the International Finance Corporation's (IFC) Vice President for Business Advisory Services and a member of IFC's Management Team.

She joined the IFC in 2000 in the capacity of IFC’s Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman. From 2004, Ms Kyte served as IFC’s Director for Environmental and Social Development, where she led efforts to develop new sustainability performance standards. Thanks to the Equator Principles, these standards are now a global benchmark, demonstrating IFC’s leadership in sustainable business and illustrating that improved environment and social standards can raise financial performance in emerging markets.

Ms Kyte has been Vice President of the IFC since 2008. She has focused IFC’s Advisory Services to deliver more measurable impact for the world’s poorest people and in the most challenging environments, including countries affected by conflict.

She led IFC’s efforts to support inclusive business models, including women's businesses. She also spearheaded adoption of the IFC Development Goals, the first set of development goals specific to the private sector.

Prior to joining IFC, Ms Kyte was a member of the management team of the World Conservation Union—IUCN. She has held elected positions in Europe, and founded and led non-government organisations focusing on women, the environment, health, and rights.

Huub Rijnaarts

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Huub Rijnaarts studied Environmental Sciences at Wageningen University. He received a PhD (1994) through his research on microbial adhesion on solid surfaces and biodegradation of halogenated compounds in groundwater and soils, which was conducted at Wageningen University. He has put together and led applied research groups on Environmental Biotechnology for cleaning water, groundwater, and sediments at TNO and Deltares in the Netherlands between 1994 and 2009.

He was scientific director of a TNO-WU joined research initiative on groundwater bioremediation from 1995-2005, supporting 20 PhD and postdocs. Since 2009 he has been a professor in Environmental Water Technology at the sub-department of Environmental Technology of Wageningen University, and Scientific Chairman of the International Conference AquaConSoil. He is member of the science board of Deltares and partner professor in TTI WETSUS.

Since 2012 he has been the director of the Wageningen institute for Environmental and Climate research (WIMEK) which is part of the national graduate school SENSE (Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment).