The Dutch cabinet regards circular agriculture as the future of agriculture. At the opening of the new Wageningen University & Research (WUR) site in the WTC in The Hague, several speakers made the point that sound social and economic research is essential in order to arrive at the correct policy measures. The shift to a circular and sustainable food system calls for changes in research, approach and models as well.
An independent research institute close to policymakers linked to society and fellow-researchers is essential for the agricultural sector. The big challenges in the areas of climate, nutrition and urban development demand insights based on figures. The discussion can be stimulated using the models, data and expertise of Wageningen Economic Research, and we can go in search of the answers to questions like, "How do you introduce new nutritional concepts?", "How do you motivate more sustainable choices?" and "How do you feed the city in a sustainable way?"
In the light of this, The Hague Mayor Pauline Krikke, WUR Executive Board President Louise O Fresco and Michel Berkelmans, the director of Agricultural and Natural Knowledge at the Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Ministry (LNV), detailed their vision of the role of Wageningen Economic Research and applied social and economic research at the opening of the new WUR site in The Hague.
Renewal of Research
According to Jack van der Vorst, Social Sciences Group director, the renewal of policy calls for renewal at Wageningen Economic Research as well, both with regard to research methodology and in its models, for example, if the issue is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Over the years ahead, member states will be given greater leeway to interpret this, but they will have to submit their plans to the Commission, along with a detailed policy evaluation. For this, Minister Schouten is relying in part on circular agriculture. One of the ways to ensure that this works well is optimal use of the CAP with respect to farmers' incomes, climate, soil quality and managing nature in agriculture and biodiversity.
This change in policy calls for integrated research and models that are linked to climate and nature as well. For this reason, Wageningen Economic Research is working on the further development of its models, for example in European research projects.
Bigger role for society from new research methods
In addition, Wageningen Economic Research sees a bigger role for farmers and other actors in developing policy. This can be facilitated with the aid of ICT and new research methods, such as living labs.
This is a new approach to research, where use is made not only of a lab environment, but behavioural understanding is tested in a multidisciplinary approach in real-life situations with 'real people'.
Wageningen Economic Research moves to the WTC in The Hague
The new WUR hub in The Hague will serve as the office of Wageningen Economic Research, the social and economic research institute of Wageningen University & Research.
Wageningen Economic Research and its predecessors (the Agricultural Economic Institute and LEI Wageningen UR) have been based in The Hague since 1940. On the basis of data, models and knowledge of the sector and the field, Wageningen Economic Research provides policymakers, companies and society with insights into the main challenges faced by the food system.
The new location will stimulate encounters between researchers and their clients with a view to developing fresh insights.