11 October 2018

Detlef van Vuuren highest ranked UU researcher

Four Utrecht University researchers in Trouw’s Sustainable 100

Four researchers from the Geosciences Faculty have been named in the Sustainable (Duurzaam) 100, published by Dutch newspaper Trouw. The latest additions to the list were announced yesterday. Detlef van Vuuren (at number 11 in the list) has the highest ranking. The ‘list of the greenest thinkers and doers in the Netherlands’ also features Jeroen van de Sluijs (number 45), Klaas van Egmond (73) and Marko Hekkert (90).

This is the second accolade received by Prof Detlef van Vuuren within a week: on Monday evening, he was awarded the Huibregtsen prize. The Trouw jury report praises Van Vuuren for his pioneering role in research into how the world can meet the targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. In addition to his professorship at UU, Van Vuuren is also a researcher at the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, where he uses his IMAGE model to predict various climate scenarios. It is partly thanks to this model that Van Vuuren is one of the most quoted researchers at Utrecht University, with publications in leading journals.

Agricultural pesticide

Jeroen van der Sluijs re-enters the Sustainable 100 at number 45. Van der Sluijs leads multidisciplinary research into controversies regarding environmental and health risks. Trouw commends him for being one of the first to debate the use of neonicotinoids in the agricultural sector. This common pesticide is extremely damaging to biodiversity and its use is coming under increasing pressure – partly thanks to Van der Sluijs' work. Trouw published an in-depth interview with him (in Dutch) on this subject.

Seeking consensus

At number 73, is Klaas van Egmond, who Trouw numbers amongst the grand old men of sustainable thought. The newspaper praises Van Egmond for always sticking to his guns. To quote the jury report: "Consider the Energy and Climate Agreement that Minister Wiebes is looking to present before the year is out. Van Egmond certainly believes that the agreement is necessary, but he takes issue with how it came into being: the former Crown-appointed member of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) believes that consulting and seeking consensus with large companies is a disastrous approach." This is also reflected in this interview (in Dutch) with Van Egmond in de Volkskrant.

Innovation policy

Trouw commends Marko Hekkert dual role, noting his professorship and role as Chairman of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, but also his working group at the Social and Economic Council, which examines the future of innovation policy, and the advisory role he fulfils for various ministries. "Whether it is concerning the tenability of the current agricultural system or the necessary switch to sustainable energy sources: Hekkert is keen to share his expertise", says Trouw.