Wageningen University & Research collaborates with a broad range of partners in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador and, on a less intensive level, with partners in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba and Peru and occasionally in the other Latin American countries. The potential of Latin American countries to optimize production for their own market and export and adding value to commodities is evident. The region’s natural resources, on the other hand are of local, national and global importance. Sustainability and inclusiveness of production systems and conservation of natural resources and biodiversity will drive future developments.
Wageningen University & Research cooperates with research institutes, governments (at national and subnational level), private sector as well as with producer associations and civil society. We look at the societal and scientific challenges, the importance and the substantive link with the strategies and needs of the partners in a country. We ultimately strive for high qualified research and value creation in Latin America and are eager to contribute to a sustainable and inclusive further development of each country in its own socio economic and political context.
Climate change, increasing urbanization and land use change are causing more and more extreme droughts and floods in Latin America in the last years. The water supply of some major cities is jeopardized by a shortage of clean and fresh water. Increasing national and international pressure forces governments as well as the business community to pay more attention to sustainable use and management of nature, soil and water. In several Latin American countries there is an immediate concern about the effect of El Nino; there are more droughts, forest fires and a further impoverishing of the already-fragile rural population. In 2015, 78% of Latin America’s population lived in cities. Most of the economies in the region have grown in the last 5 years and a greater number of people now live at middle class level and less in poverty. This new middle class will keep on changing the food pattern and has an insatiable appetite for meat, dairy products and energy. However, there are still large gaps in living standards in relation to e.g. east Asia and sub-Sahara Africa.
Of the five investments themes that are strategic topics in the Wageningen University & Research strategic plan 2015 – 2018 , three investment themes are strategic to Latin America:
- Resource use efficiency: socio-economic analysis of transition towards more sustainable and efficient use of resources, effective implementation of land use regulations, contribute to optimal use of biomass and energy, (bio based) materials and nutrients in the primary sector, and fresh water management, etc.
- Metropolitan Solutions: food, nutrition (undernutrition and obesity), health and wellness, transportation and quality of food, water supply, water recycling, processing and recycling of waste, etc.
- Resilience: requires a profound look at natural ecosystems (tropical rainforest, eco engineering of salt and fresh water, coastal protection), agro-ecosystems (climate resilient agriculture, agroforestry, degraded land), food supply chains/food systems for rural and urban areas.