WURld dialogue

A unique global dialogue about food: WURld Dialogue

In three decades, 70% of the global population will live in urban areas. How will people in these mega-cities gain access to healthy food? This is the central question we will explore during the WURld Dialogue. Everyone is invited to discuss this major challenge at the World Wide Alumni Day, through one of the five live events, or on social media. A live stream will be set up to give everyone the opportunity to follow this global online dialogue. This is also a unique opportunity to meet members of the Wageningen network, to share your knowledge on this topic and to contribute solutions to this global challenge.

Watch the recordings of the WURld Dialogue here

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WURld Dialogue: A global brainstorm

This global online dialogue is the first step in bringing together the Wageningen community in the hopes of addressing this challenge both now and in the future. The WURld Dialogue sheded light on the complexities involved in feeding global metropolises. Vlogs, photos, and questions from WUR alumni around the world were presented and discussed using examples from different regions. Topics like production, rural population reduction, logistics and waste flows were covered. Together, we started to discover how solutions from one continent can be applied on another continent. The panel chairs and the participants also attempted to define the circumstances and key factors that contribute to the ideal food chain. This dialogue was a great start to creating healthy eating patterns in metropolises.

Continue the dialogue on the alumni platform WURconnect and stay in contact with your fellow alumni around the world. The results of this worldwide online dialogue will be addressed in Wageningen on 30 and 31 August during the Sustainable Development Goals Conference, which will focus on the theme 'Towards Zero Hunger: Partnerships for Impact'.

Five continents in contact

WUR was committed to facilitating this worldwide online dialogue and had hired a professional television production company (IDTV) for the technical aspects. The physical dialogue took place on 23 June 2018 (2.00 pm to 3.30 pm CEST), during which five continents were in contact with one another: Europe (Wageningen, the Netherlands); Africa (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia); North America (Washington D.C., USA); South America (Cali, Colombia); and Asia (Nanjing, China). Under the supervision of Simon Pampena, an enthusiastic moderator from Australia, present in Wageningen, the five panel chairs entered into a discussion in Wageningen, with input from the audience and the panel members. Other participants around the world joined the discussion via the livestream, at alumni events or via social media. With the expertise of our Wageningen alumni and partners we will continue to make a real contribution to finding solutions.

The moderator and the five panel chairs

Host: Simon Pampena

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Australian mathematician, writer and performer Simon Pampena will host the talk show. Just as he talks about maths with a good dose of humour, he will also ensure that this online dialogue won’t fail to entertain.

Panel chair for North America: Martien van Nieuwkoop

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Martien van Nieuwkoop from the Netherlands is the Director for Agriculture Global Practice at the World Bank in Washington, USA. Nieuwkoop graduated from Wageningen University & Research in 1988 as a development economist. After two years at CIMMYT he started his position as agricultural economist at the World Bank. He has worked in Africa, South America and South Asia and understands the global discourses of the agricultural sector. He is also committed to improving the position of farmers. In a recent blog about the importance of climate-smart agriculture, Van Nieuwkoop emphasised that governments must use their policy and information activities to reach all parties involved, especially the farmers who form the front line of the food system.

Panel chair for Asia: Chun-Ming Liu

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Chun-Ming Liu from China is the Director General of the Institute of Crop Science of the Chinese Academy of Agriculural Sciences. He is an expert in seed development and worked for the plant sciences group of Wageningen University & Research as a senior researcher from 1999 until 2005.

Panel chair for Europe: Arthur Mol

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Arthur Mol from the Netherlands was appointed Rector Magnificus of Wageningen University & Research in 2015 and is an alumnus of the university. He completed his degree here in Environmental Protection in 1985 and completed his PhD in sociology at the University of Amsterdam. Up until his appointment as Rector Magnificus, he was a professor of Environmental Policy at Wageningen University & Research for fifteen years and also spent time in China and Malaysia as a visiting professor. His most important research themes included globalisation, sustainable production and consumption and urban environmental policy. His research touched on topics such as how and in which format information can influence policy and how relevant administrators and other actors can use this information to steer policy.

Panel chair for Africa: Laurent G. Sédogo

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Laurent G. Sédogo from Burkina Faso is a former government minister and WUR alumnus and has been involved with participation and rural development in his various positions. He completed his master’s degree in Geo-Information Science (GIS) at WUR in 1995 and his PhD in 2002 in which he combined local participation and regional planning for resource management with GIS. As a government minister in Burkina Faso, Sédogo served as the Minister of Farmers' Cooperative Action from 1988 to 1990, Minister of the Environment and Quality of Life from 2004 to 2008 and Minister of Agriculture, Water and Fisheries Resources from 2008 to 2013. After this he spent three years at the head of the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL). Currently Sédogo is the Director of the Dreyer Stiftung in Burkina Faso which helps alleviate poverty amongst the people in the Dano region.

Panel chair for South America: Ruben G. Echeverría

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Ruben G. Echeverría from Uruguay has no history at WUR but is certainly familiar with this domain. Echeverría is the General Director of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia which researches the improvement of food security, markets and resilience of natural systems around the world. Earlier in his career, the graduate agronomist worked on land reform, improving agricultural research and policy in Asia, Africa and South America, and setting up projects and funds for agricultural and rural development at the Inter-American Development Bank. From 2004 to 2009, he led the Scientific Council of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

What can we learn from you?

What do you see as the key factors for continuing to feed the megacities? Here are a few questions that give food for thought and that were addressed in the world dialogue:

  • What are the main problems in the supply chain in megacities?
  • How will not only sufficient food, but also healthy food be provided for megacities?
  • How big is the problem of food waste?
  • How to tackle the problem of waste from packaging and other sources?
  • Which public sentiments are important to take into account?
  • What is the most important food innovation on your continent for the future?
  • What frightens you, and what makes you optimistic?
  • Which drastic measure could lead to a solution?

Continue to take part in the dialogue via social media by using #WURlddialogue and #WUR100 on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram.