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TO2 institutes launch impact report 2022

Published on
November 11, 2022

The TO2 institutes TNO, WUR, Deltares, NLR and MARIN, recently published the Impact Report. The magazine, produced in close cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, shows how the various institutes conducted their research and how their solutions contribute to a sustainable, clean, healthy and safe future for the Netherlands.

A significant part of the research is funded by the government and frequently co-funded by the end-users. Therefore, the TO2 institutes involved are eager to share the achieved results in this easy-to-read magazine.

Contribution to societal themes

The articles follow the four societal topics defined by the mission-driven Top Sector and Innovation policy: 1. Energy transition and sustainability, 2. Agriculture, water and Food, 3. Health and Health Care and 4. Security.

Economic Affairs and Climate Minister Micky Adriaansens in the foreword of the Magazine: "We’re living in the midst of many complex social issues. From economic uncertainty and historical developments in the energy market to global warming, from a health crisis to sustainability. This Impact Report shows concrete solutions found by TO2 institutes with their applied research The results are invaluable to our society and are really worthwhile to be widely shared.”

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Examples of real impact as described in this report are among others related to climate adaptive agricultural systems and better control of water systems. It shows methods and innovations for reducing the negative impact on animals in and above the sea due to wind farms.

Below a brief summary of the applied research results of Wageningen University & Research in cooperation with the TO2 federation.

Air bubble curtains protect seals against noise

Wind energy is clean and contributes to climate goals, but wind turbines have disadvantages for birds, bats and marine mammals. WUR identifies the effect of off shore wind farms in the North Sea on various animal species. WUR and others investigate which measures and innovations are possible to reduce their adverse effects. This leads to effective measures, such as bubble screens to protect seals from the noise of pile driving.

How can farmers adapt to climate change?

Due to climate change, temperatures are rising, rainfall occurs more often in a short space of time and there are longer spells of drought in the Netherlands. At the same time, soil quality deteriorates and all this is extremely detrimental to agriculture. WUR develops knowledge, models and scenarios for farmers, insurers and other companies, like the Climate Stress Test, which is part of the Climate Change Adaptation project for Open Cultivation. Using the Climate Stress Test, farmers and insurers have a conversation and create more awareness. This allows farms to adapt to climate change.

Fewer greenhouse gases through sustainable agriculture and forestry

Unsustainable forms of agriculture and deforestation create greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, which accelerates climate change. The IPCC report, to which WUR contributes, raises global awareness and actions, emphasizing the importance of more sustainable forms of agriculture, forestry and timber construction to help solve the climate problem. In doing so, WUR knowledge contributes to supporting global negotiations on climate targets that result in reduced climate change and therefore fewer extreme weather conditions and a curtailed sea-level rise.

Can food forests help to make agriculture more robust?How to improve the robustness of agriculture for weather extremes caused by climate change with more diversity and less monoculture? Food forests are part of the answer. The research project Scientific Underpinning of Food Forestry studies to what extent food forests can contribute to sustainable agriculture and in doing so to a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly and climate-friendly agricultural system.

Jointly being smarter with vital water

Water shortages and waterlogging are becoming more common as a result of climate change. This calls for efficient water management by water boards and water usage by farmers, also with a view to securing our long-term food supply. Together with water boards and private parties, Deltaris and WUR developed Grow with the Flow, a digital platform that monitors and predicts data on water availability at pilot level. Grow with the Flow’s data and predictions enable farmers to optimise their farming operations. At the same time, the platform provides water boards with a better understanding of the water needs in their area and allows researchers to refine their models using the data obtained.

The landscape of the future is green-blueThe consequences of an ever-faster climate change makes the Netherlands, as a river delta, vulnerable. WUR and Deltares are jointly developing future scenarios with three pilot areas for landscapes becoming more sustainable, rich in values, abundant in water and water-safe. Not only for now (2030), but also for later (2050) and in the distant future (2120). In this way a comprehensive way of thinking about retaining and managing water has been created. The design of landscapes that are rich in value require giant system leaps and a different way of thinking.

‘Digital twin’ for water management

A digital twin is the combination and interaction of a physical system (such as a factory) and a virtual representation of this system, often a computer model. A digital twin for water management ensures further integration and use of data, models, workflows and their implementation in the complex operational structures of water boards. A digital twin can contribute to modern water management solutions for three different topics: water treatment plants, water quality and drought. The impact is massive for a broad-based consortium of partners; better management of water systems and easier testing of scenarios in the event of an increasing variety of climatological challenges.

Green = good for health

Researchers at Wageningen University & Research are working on various 'green projects' for health. Consider a neighbourhood vegetable garden, set up by residents themselves, where they work together and prepare meals with vegetables and herbs form their own garden. WUR investigates the effect of these green initiatives on the health and well-being of the residents.