Looking back at the Wageningen Integration For Impact (WIFI) event

The Interdisciplinary Research and Education Fund (INREF) and the Knowledge Base (KB) Programme on Food Security and Valuing Water, both part of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), jointly organised an international science-policy event in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Organised by Wageningen University & Research

Mon 13 June 2022

Tue 14 June 2022

Venue Omnia Building, Wageningen Campus & Online (hybrid)

Looking back on day 1

While awe-ing the new dialogue centre ‘Omnia’ at Wageningen Campus the 100+plus participants of WIFI came to business. The science policy interface was the central topic on the first day of the event. Prof Dirk-Jan Koch, chief Science Officer of the ministry underlined the importance of a good interface. Challenges like differences in language, time-scales, and instruments were all discussed. Some success stories on science policy were shared in the publication ‘crossing borders’ which Prof Arthur Mol presented. The publication shares 10 years of experience from 17 INREF programmes.

In a panel with representatives from government, industry, civil society, science and youth views on the best way forward were exchanged, whereby the panellists stressed the importance of longer term collaborations, building trust and a joint language, for sustained change. A first copy of the book ‘A journey into the world’s food systems in search of losses, waste and ways to solve them’ was presented to Casper Holl, representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.

At the day’s closure Prof Anita Hardon added a view from the funders perspective, which also underlined the need for more flexible and longer-term funding, but also more clarity on what is realistic to expect in terms of impact of science. In the end we can conclude that there is no silver bullet; effective science-policy interface requires time and investment from all stakeholders, to build trust, to build relations, and to strengthen collaboration.

Looking back on day 2

The second day took another angle and aimed to deepen the insights of effective approaches of inter- and transdisciplinary research and education. It is not easy for disciplinary trained researchers to conduct inter- let alone transdisciplinary research, as Prof Wouter Hendriks explained by examples from the worlds of sport and IT. (Lack of) mutual understanding and intrinsic motivation are just a few of the challenges. Prof Lindiwe Sibanda (University of Pretoria) stressed the importance of involving and building local capacity, African history has a rich base to source from for sustainable solutions for their current problems. Prof Laurette Dubé (McGill University) presented the concept of convergence innovation. During the parallel sessions experiences were exchanged from various programmes, ranging from how to manage interdisciplinary research at organisational level, to how to integrate scientific and non-scientific knowledge, to how to effectively engage with stakeholders. Two members of the International Association of students in Agricultural and related Sciences (IAAS) provided feedback to the participants. It became clear that inter and transdisciplinary has an important role to play in tackling the complex challenges and wicked problems we face. The discussion also showed there is some ground to be covered in managing inter- and transdisciplinary research and equipping the next generation of researchers with the right skills and tools. It is key that sciences reaches out to social actors (including policy) to tackle the problems.

The days were experienced as a worthwhile contribution to the initiating programs. In fact, there is much enthusiasm to organize an annually recurring event on research on SDG’s. Such an event helps to facilitate the exchanges between programmes such as INREF, KB and others, to enhance science-policy interface and to stimulate inter- and transdisciplinary research.



The preparations for the WIFI event are in full swing and we are proud to announce the (preliminary) programme below.

June 13, Science-policy event

Prior to the Wageningen Integration For Impact event, the side event ‘Co-creating sustainability science for impact: Integration of transdisciplinarity in research and education’ will take place on Monday June 13 from 09.00-12.00 am at PlusUltra II. For more information and registration for this side event, click here.

12.00-13.00 Joint lunch
13.00-13.05 Programme of the day by Jelle Maas, coordinator INREF programme
13.05-13.30 Opening by Arthur Mol, Vice chair of the Executive Board, Rector Magnificus of Wageningen University. Compilation of contributions KB- and INREF programme and other WUR programmes.
13.30-13.50 Key note speech by Dirk Jan Koch, Chief Science Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Professor on International Trade and Development Cooperation at Radboud University about the need for and impact of integrated research in order to achieve the SDGs, and in particular about the need for better science-policy integration about the value of inter- and transdisciplinary approaches in achieving the SDGs
13.50-15.45 Parallel sessions:
Environment–Society nexus Society–Food nexus Food–Environment nexus
13.50-14.10 Khaled Noby – Nature Conservation in Egypt: integrating research with impact for conservation actions (INREF) Bernard Moonga and Sijmen Schoustra - Formal standards for traditional fermented milk based on local processing practice, local knowledge and policy interventions ((INREF) Gert Kema - Panama disease (INREF)
14.10-14.25 Emmanuel Attoh - Co-production of Climate Services for Water Management and Food Production in Ghana (EVOCA, INREF) Oscar I. Ayuya - Feeding the cities, Kibera Kenya (KB) Sipke Joost Hiemstra - The importance of plant and animal genetic diversity for sustainable and resilient food systems (KB)
14.25-14.35 Questions for clarification Questions for clarification Questions for clarification
14.35-14.50 Bertram de Rooij - NL2120 Dawit Alemu - Demonstrating evidences to inform policy and action, Experiences from BENEFIT Ethiopia Catharien Terwisscha van Scheltinga (or Bangladeshi speaker) - Delta under pressures (KB)
14.50-15.05 Erika Speelman - SESAM (INREF) Nikki Zimmerman- World Food Programme – Impacts of WFP in Eastern Africa Otto Hospes or Maja Slingerland (or Indonesian speaker) - Suspense (INREF)
15.05-15.15 Questions for clarification Questions for clarification Questions for clarification
15.15-15.45 Discussion moderated by Walter Fraanje, Research and communications officer for TABLE (WUR) Discussion moderated by Brenda Namugumya, Food and Nutrition Security Advisor (WR) Discussion moderated by Kalyan Guntuboyina, Account Manager, Asia (WUR)
15.45-16.15 Coffee break Coffee break Coffee break
16.15-16.50 Panel discussion moderated by Bart de Steenhuijsen Piters. Suggestions on what inspired them today, what they would like to see more of, what WUR could do better/differently in order to improve the effectiveness of inter- and transdisciplinary research as means to achieve scientific and societal impact. Panellists:
Stephen Onakuse (Director Agrinatura)*
Casper Holl (Head agro economic policy and food security at Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality)
Eveline Buter (Witteveen en Bos)
Jane Madgwick (CEO Wetlands International)
Evi Vet (NJR Youth representative Food Security and Biodiversity)
16.50-17.00 Closing remarks by Casper Holl (Head agro economic policy and food security at Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality)
17.00-17.15 Closing remarks by Anita Hardon, Chair Knowledge Technology and Innovation Chair group at WUR
17.15 Closure by Jelle Maas
17.15-19.00 Drinks and bites

* Agrinatura is the European network of knowledge institutes who work on interdisciplinary agricultural research for development

June 14, Research exchange event

08.30-09.00 Registration
09.00-09.10 Opening and programme by Wouter Hendriks (Dean of research WUR). Programme by Chair of the day: Ivo Demmers (Director WUR KB Programme Food Security and Valuing Water).
09.10-10.10 Game changing solutions for global wicked problems we face: climate change and malnutrition, key note speech by Prof. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda (Director of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), and co-chair of the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA)
A convergence-by-design approach to integrative science, policy, investment and education for societal-scale SDGs solutions: Insights from food convergence innovation platforms ecosystems, by Prof. Laurette Dubé (Founding Chair of McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics)
10.10-10.30 Coffee break
10.30-12.15 Parallel sessions:
Track 1a: Inter and transdisciplinary education Track 2a: Managing interdisciplinary research; how to organise integration at programme level? Track 3a: Methods and approaches
Karen Fortuin - Experiences from the Boundary Crossing @ WUR Project (BSc/MSc) Maja Singerland - Lessons learned on managing interdisciplinarity at project and programme level (INREF) Erika Speelman - SESAM serious games (INREF)
Nina de Roo – INREF experiences with inter- and transdisciplinary education Corinne Lamain (Centre for Unusual Collaborations) - Lessons learned on how to promote scientific excellence, interdisciplinary approaches, and unusual collaborations? Michiel van Dijk - Integrated assessment modelling at national and local scales to inform long-run SDG strategies (KB)
Miel Hooidonk – Integrated approaches in education for professionals in the field of water management and food systems (Wageningen Academy) Jason-Levin Koopman - Interdisciplinary modelling for policy analysis at WUR Mariette McCampbell (or local PhD) - Responsible life-sciences innovations for development in the digital age: Environmental Virtual Observatories for Connective Action (EVOCA) (INREF)
Discussion moderated by Peter Vermeulen Discussion moderated by Geerten Hengeveld Discussion moderated by Sijmen Schoustra
12.15-13.30 Lunch
13.30-15.15 Parallel sessions:
Track 1b: Balancing scientific excellence and societal impact Track 2b: Stakeholder engagement in inter- and trans-disciplinary research Track 3b: Integrating different types of knowledge
13.30-14.30 Catharien Terwisscha van Scheltinga - Deltas under pressure and interdisciplinary methods in food systems research (KB) David W. Walker - Grounding interdisciplinarity through stakeholder participation in drought impacts monitoring in Brazil (INREF) Jeanne Nel – IPBES integration of indigenous knowledge and scientific approaches
Lorenzo Pastrana – Facing Health, Ageing and Digitalization in the Future Food System (TrustEat) Katherine Pittore - Engaging with societal actors in transdisciplinary research, experiences from diverse projects in Uganda (KB) M M.N.B. Nair - Opportunities of herbs for dairy health in India and the Netherlands
Sander van den Burg – Reflections on interdisciplinary work in KB 35 - Aquatic Systems Marlene Roefs - Analysing contributions of multi-stakeholder platforms to food system transformation through a behavioural change lens Valentina C. Materia & Sijmen Schoustra - Fermented foods (INREF) Integrating local knowledge on processing with scientific methods of food quality
Discussion moderated by Corinne Lamain Discussion moderated by Karen Verhoosel Discussion moderated by Fedes van Rijn
15.15-15.45 Coffee break
15.45-16.15 Recap with key points from each parallel session followed by a plenary discussion about how to improve the effectiveness of inter- and transdisciplinary research as means to achieve scientific and societal impact, moderated by Ivo Demmers
16.15 Closing remarks by Ivo Demmers
16.30 Drinks


Call for contributions [closed]

Policy makers, scientists, funders and researchers are invited to submit initiatives, lessons learned and possible strategies showcasing their experience(s) to present them for reflection at the event. Proposals for contributions to be discussed during the Science-policy event as well as the Researcher exchange event are welcome.

Science-policy event (June 13)

The focus of this event is showcasing successes of inter- and or transdisciplinary research projects and their contribution to the SDGs. The target audiences are policy makers (global, European, Dutch), scientists and funders of integrated research for development.

Researcher exchange event (June 14)

The learning and exchange event is oriented towards peer learning among researchers about how to do integrated research in the domain of the SDGs. There are opportunities for critical reflection, lessons learned and dialogue about what works and what we can do better.

The call for contributions is closed.

Background information

In 2021 INREF celebrated its 20th anniversary. To celebrate this and to discuss and reflect on lessons learned in the field of inter- and transdisciplinary research and education, the INREF board organise the Wageningen Integration For Impact event on June 13-14 2022.

As the KB programme Food Security and Valuing Water also started the preparations for an event we decided to join hands. What started as a singular effort has now grown into a WUR broad desire to bring together WU and WR expertise on doing high quality and socially relevant inter- and transdisciplinary research in the domains of the SDGs and food systems.

It’s quite timely that we want to take a step back and jointly reflect about this practice of doing inter- and transdisciplinary research. In 2022 several important summits will take place dealing with Food Systems, Climate, Biodiversity and Nutrition: