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Feeding the Billions: Challenges and Innovation in Food and Water Security

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

There are 7 billion people to feed today, and this number is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. This implies that more food is needed; more food means that more water is required for crop and livestock production. But how secure are our supplies of food and water? 

More specifically, what are the differences among regions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia? What is the impact of climate change and what are the implications of current migration and urbanization trends for food, nutrition and water security? Agriculture is the biggest user of water on the globe, requiring large quantities of water for irrigation and production processes. How can food production be made more efficient, without compromising our water resources and the environment in general? Who are the key stakeholders in this domain and what is the role of the market in food production technologies and innovation?

Students and professionals with an interest in food and water security issues. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please let us know. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professional with a wide variety of backgrounds.

In this course you examine a range of approaches towards food and water security, from international policy agreements to community-based activities. Theory is combined with practice in the lectures, the discussions and the excursions, with all providing concrete examples of how issues of food and water security are being analysed and addressed in various regions, at various levels and by various actors from science and society. 

Food and water security is a major theme at VU Amsterdam, where it is embedded in the teaching and research work of the Centre for International Cooperation (CIS-VU) and the Amsterdam Centre for World Food Studies, a joint initiative of the School of Business and Economics (SBE) and the Athena Institute of the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences (FALW). 

At the end of this course you will:

  • Better understand food and water security, its context (local to global), major challenges, innovative solutions and policies.
  • Understand and can explain major concepts and theories in this field.
  • Be able to select and apply appropriate transdisciplinary approaches in food and water security research, including the use of data-collection, analysis and presentation tools.
  • Have acquired the computational skills needed to process relevant data, evaluate outputs and synthesize the overall outcome.
  • Possess the communication skills needed to participate in current debates in the field of food and water security. 

Visits to urban agriculture projects in Amsterdam and in the rural area near the city. 

Denyse Snelder
 (PhD in the field of Sustainable Land and Water Management) holds a position at the Centre for International Cooperation (CIS), Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam. During lectures and workshops, she shares much of her field experience acquired over the years, managing multiple projects such as the WHaTeR project (EC) on Water Harvesting Technologies in Sub-Saharan, the STRONGBOW (Nuffic) on Natural Resource Management, Tourism, and Ecotourism, the ASALI programme on Research for A Sustainable Approach to Livelihood Improvement in Kenya, the SPADE project (Nuffic) on Spatial Planning for Agri-business and Public Policy Development in Kenya and the 3C project (Nuffic) on Natural Resource Management and Conflict Resolution for Stability and Inclusive Growth in the Greater Virunga Landscape (Rwanda, Uganda, DR Congo). 

“Finding ways in which we can achieve food and water security for billions of people in a world of growing scarcity is one, if not, the key challenge in the coming decades” 


Location Amsterdam, Netherlands
20 Jul 2019 - 3 Aug 2019
Levels Bachelor / Undergraduate
Master / Graduate
Credits 3.0 ECTS
Program fee 1,150 EUR
Accommodation fee 500 EUR
Extra information about the fee:
There are several accommodation options, ranging in price from €500 to €550. There are discounts:
€150 discount for early birds (register before 15 March, 23.59 CET).
€250 discount for all students from partner universities.
€200 discount when you apply for 2 courses, €300 when you apply for 3 courses.
€450 discount if you are currently a student at VU Amsterdam. Visit our website to see all housing options and for a list of partner universities.
Application deadline 1 May 2019
Entry requirements:
At least enrolled in 2nd year of Bachelor studies.
Contact information:
Skype: VU Amsterdam Summer School - by appointment, email first
Telephone: +31 20 59 86429