Working with the fossil fuel industry

In order to fulfil our mission, at Wageningen University & Research (WUR), we cooperate with partners from all over the world. They include public bodies, research and teaching institutions, the private sector and non-governmental organisations. WUR also works with organisations that are under pressure for contributing to unhealthy behaviours or global warming in certain cases, such as companies that are active in the fossil fuel industry.

We understand that undertaking research projects in conjunction with the fossil fuel industry may raise questions and create potential challenges. Simultaneously, however, cooperation can be part of the necessary transition to a post-fossil-fuel society. Openness, discussion and self-reflection are key to WUR’s scientific environment, in which independence and integrity are vital. These partnership agreements are continuously under critical investigation for this reason.

1. Why is WUR working with the fossil fuel industry?

The world is facing major challenges: sustainable energy supply, making food production and consumption more sustainable, restoring biodiversity, urbanisation and climate change. The challenges faced by society today demand solutions that come from a wide range of perspectives. As a society, we need everyone to solve these issues. The issues are too big for science or politics to solve them alone. WUR currently ranks as one of the best scientific institutions in the world in the fields of agriculture, nutrition and the environment. We contribute to creating a sustainable society by generating and sharing knowledge and developing new solutions, through education and cooperation. In essence, then, our work with the fossil industry is no different from our work with partners from other fields, each collaborative project is evaluated in the same way.

2. How do we work together?

We evaluate all cooperative research against national and WUR-specific codes of conduct, policies and guidelines on independence, scientific integrity, intellectual property, the protection of personal data, the sharing of research data and publications, and ethical standards.

WUR’s policy and guidelines for considering these risks and dilemmas form the basis of new cooperative projects. As such, we devote continuous attention to our staff’s, students’ and stakeholders’ awareness of potential risks and dilemmas when working with partners.

3. What are the internal guidelines for cooperation like?

In essence, cooperative projects have to align with our strategic plan; they must not be used for green washing and they must comply with our guidelines on scientific integrity, human rights, knowledge security, intellectual property, ethics and open science, have a positive impact and contribute to the SDGs.