After the Challenge – David Mornout

My name is David Mornout and I am currently studying in the MSc International Land and Water Management programme. I was born in a rural area in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant and I have lived in the Netherlands all my life. In the past few years, I participated in two Student Challenges: the (very first) A5 Student Challenge and the Global Case Competition. I hope this passport will be a source of inspiration. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

My first experience in a Student Challenge was immediately a very special one. I participated in the very first A5 Student Challenge. A5 is a network of five top-ranked international academic institutions in the areas of agriculture, food and sustainability. Together with ten other WUR students, I visited Hainan for the kick-off of the challenge in December 2019. In the next six months, I worked on designing a new campus on Hainan Island.

Even though there were some communication difficulties, it was an amazing and challenging experience to work on this real-life project together with students from Brazil, the USA and China. Unfortunately, we could not visit Hainan for the finals of this challenge because of the corona virus. Even though my team was not one of this challenge’s winners, we learned a lot and had a lot fun.

Did you participate in another challenge?

More recently, in March 2021, I participated in the Global Case Competition together with three other WUR students. In this challenge, organised by BI Norwegian Business School, EAT and Kearney, we only had 24 hours to develop solutions, which is quite a contrast with the 6 months from the A5 Challenge! In this challenge, we took the locust crisis as a starting point for a game-changing solution to tackle the pitfalls of our current food system. Our team, 'The Metamorphosis of Food', developed a plan to turn locust plagues into an opportunity, leading to increased economic and food security and healthier sustainable diets. It was an amazing experience to dive into this topic, especially because I hadn’t had much prior experience.  

Lastly, I applied for the QING Innovation Track with a study friend of mine. Our goal is to increase the scope for the beneficial use of agricultural areas and water resources that are becoming increasingly saline. We were not selected to participate in this challenge but we are still exploring other ideas. Let’s see what the future has in store for us! 

David Mornout uitsnede.jpeg

What are your plans?

I am currently, finishing my MSc thesis on the water management of the Oostvaardersplassen and the Marker Wadden, both of which are very specially constructed wetlands in the Netherlands. In 2022, I will also be involved in Student Challenges but in a different way because I will then be part of the organising team of a student challenge on nature-based solutions. Furthermore, I am looking forward to my internship in the second half of 2022!

How can you follow your next steps?

I regularly post updates on my LinkedIn. Looking forward to connecting there! 

What is your ultimate tip for other students?

I think that Student Challenges are very suitable opportunities to meet new people, explore ideas and learn about new topics. The challenges allow you to think outside the box and to do new things. Therefore, I highly recommend that you participate! 

When involved in Student Challenges, my tip is to discuss expectations and goals with your team members. When you are working towards the same goals, you can really work as a team. 

Who or what inspires you?

WUR recently published a (potential) map of the Netherlands in 2120 and they also made a nice clip about this. For me, this is a source of inspiration for thinking about what land and water management is needed to make the Netherlands future-proof. For inspiration on water management, I can recommend TheWaterChannel. I got to know this platform during my BSc internship at MetaMeta.