What is the Wageningen Biodiversity Initiative?

The Wageningen Biodiversity Initiative (WBI) is an overarching framework that has been created between science groups in order to make a strong and significant contribution to ‘bending the curve of biodiversity loss’ back in a positive direction. The initiative aims to connect and inspire both transformative research and education, in order to collectively develop a nature-inclusive society.

To achieve this goal, the WBI will:

  1. deliver the knowledge-based evidence that is needed to make effective and inclusive decisions for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity;
  2. train and empower our future leaders in our academic education programmes.

Creating connections is key. WBI will foster connections across scientific disciplines on the WUR campus and beyond, as well as encouraging interaction with the multiple stakeholders in society. The organisation of dialogues will be instrumental for facilitating the establishment of these connections. Listening to and engaging with others from diverse perspectives is a powerful way to explore and discover the potential pathways of innovation that will lead us towards a nature-inclusive society.

Operating at levels that span global to local, the WBI aims to develop knowledge and strategies to actively restore marine and terrestrial biodiversity and the ecosystem services that they provide, and to catalyse actions for transformative change towards a nature-inclusive and equitable society.
Arthur Mol, Rector Magnificus, Wageningen University & Research

These dialogues will lead to the co-creation of a transdisciplinary research agenda that tackles the ambitious task of bending the curve of biodiversity loss in the focal areas:

  1. Biodiversity, Agriculture and Food
  2. Human–Wildlife Interactions
  3. The Value of Nature

Students, PhD candidates and societal actors are explicitly invited to contribute to these dialogues. This will help to identify and prioritise scientific research areas as well as focus on the societal needs and innovation of our education programmes.

With the activities of WBI, WUR will take a leadership role in global biodiversity science and knowledge-based solutions for transformative change towards a nature-inclusive society.

How can you help us to bend the curve?

WUR is already working on the development of transformative pathways that lead to societies which sustainably coexist with nature. By taking this initiative, WUR is reaching out to stakeholders – policymakers, industry, business and NGOs – as well as fellow scientists and students around the world to collaboratively build on and strengthen this research, and to deliver it in practice for the benefit of society. We can only stop biodiversity loss if we start working together right now. Are you up for the challenge, willing to embrace complexity and eager to seek answers together? Then let’s connect!

Working on biodiversity is a collaborative effort
Liesje Mommer

Why connect with the WBI?

With a high diversity of disciplinary expertise (e.g. agronomy, breeding, ecology, economy, innovation technology, microbiology, political science, sociology and soil science), the WBI combines the scientific expertise that is essential for discussing and co-developing the knowledge and technologies needed for bending the curve of biodiversity loss. But only together can we develop and pioneer strategies to achieve this. Our aim is to co-create with stakeholders and in so doing, to embrace complexity and debate, and find solutions for the dilemmas and trade-offs.

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What is Nature-inclusive? What is Nature-based?

We use the terms nature-inclusive and nature-based solutions in this document. Nature-inclusive refers to a sustainable, just and inclusive ways of thinking and acting for the good of both people and nature, in a way that jointly enhances biodiversity, and ecological and human well-being. It is shorthand for the point on the horizon that we wish to travel towards as part of the transition to a more nature-inclusive society. Nature-based solutions (NBS) are one of the many proposed ‘delivery mechanisms’ towards achieving a more nature-inclusive society. The term NBS refers to the sustainable use, management and conservation of nature to solve socio-economic challenges, such as food production, climate mitigation, renewable energy and greener cities. In our document, it does not favour some technologies over others, or some approaches over others. We will need to collectively pioneer with many different NBS solutions in order to create a nature-inclusive society. NBS have recently received lots of attention in science and policy, as they are considered an integrative approach that can promote synergies and reduce trade-offs among sustainable development goals (SDGs).

What is transformative change?

We also use the term transformative change, but what do we mean by it? There is growing evidence that persistent interlinked societal problems, such as biodiversity loss but also hunger, climate change, unsustainable growth, poverty and social inequality, cannot be addressed by merely ramping up the things that are already being done, often termed ‘incremental change’. Instead, calls are growing for transformative change – a fundamental system-wide reorganisation of how societies are organised. This includes shifts in social, economic, environmental and technological solutions, as well as in the underpinning paradigms. If research aims to contribute to transformative change, it needs to embrace a wide range of disciplinary perspectives and values, and consider all relevant trade-offs when developing pathways. Listening to these different perspectives, and deeply understanding their grounds is the basis of doing transformative research and developing transformative pathways.