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Inaugural lecture Van Meijl: Towards an inclusive and sustainable bioeconomy: a macroeconomic perspective

Published on
September 13, 2019

"Imagine you are the owner of a cassava plantation and are considering making bioplastics from the waste to replace fossil resources and reduce the plastic soup in the oceans. How would you determine the impacts on environment, society and economy? If you started to map all the interactions you need to consider, you will quickly realise how complex this question really is." This is how Hans van Meijl started his inaugural lecture 'Towards an inclusive and sustainable bioeconomy: a macroeconomic perspective' on 4 July in Wageningen.

A major societal challenge of the 21st century is how to feed a growing world population in a sustainable and inclusive manner which strengthens resilience to climate change and incorporates concerns for planetary security. This calls for an inclusive and sustainable bioeconomy by designing and implementing a systems analysis framework; this framework, based on a macro-economic perspective, must support coherent policies that address this major societal challenge. The global, economy-wide MAGNET model of Wageningen Economic Research plays an important role in this professorship.

Hans van Meijl, who works at Wageningen Economic Research, was inaugurated as special professor of Macroeconomic Assessment of the Circular and Bioeconomy. Wageningen Economic Research is the sponsor of this chair; it sees the need for an inclusive and sustainable assessment framework to better judge and substantiate governmental interventions and strategic choices. This chair strengthens the academic profile of the institute and creates new scientific insights.

A coherent systems analysis framework for Wageningen Research to assess the interlinked global challenges in its entire research domain is an ambition that, when realised, would be unique, world leading, and hard to compete with. This kind of framework could make a difference in the world by assessing transition pathways to a more inclusive and sustainable society.

Good research builds on good education and vice versa. It is vital to educate students in the field of quantitative methods. Economic modellers are badly needed if WUR wants to fulfil the ambition of a coherent systems analysis framework for Wageningen University & Research to assess the interlinked societal global challenges. Another challenge is that interdisciplinarity is essential to understand global change and the challenge of sustainably feeding a growing planet. Together with Purdue University and Chinese Universities, WUR is setting up an interdisciplinary course to tackle these challenges facing the world's natural resource base.

This chair is all about making steps in the right direction towards an inclusive and sustainable bioeconomy.

Van Meijl has been appointed for a period of five years (2018 to 2023).