Should we follow the Wizard or the Prophet? – Discussing diverse paths for sustainable food systems transformation



Auditorium, Symphony Building, Gustav Mahlerplein 3, 1082 MS Amsterdam

Should we follow the Wizard or the Prophet? – Discussing diverse paths for sustainable food systems transformation

Fabrice DeClerck, Tom Evans, Ken Giller, John Ingram and Liesbeth Temme

Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)

Earth and Life Sciences

Conference / Symposium / Seminar

We know that we need to change the way we produce and consume our food. But we do not really agree on how exactly we should do this. GMOs, trade, vegan diets, farm size, organic agriculture, subsidies… – all of these topics are hotly debated. Should we follow the Wizard’s ‘Innovate!’ and increase efficiency, or should we rather follow the Prophet’s ‘Cut back!’ and reduce consumption? And what role can science play in this urgently needed transformation? What type of knowledge do we need to produce to help move the food system towards sustainability?

This Symposium will discuss these controversial questions from various perspectives, showcasing examples of work from within and outside VU that tries to contribute to food system transformation, but also highlighting persistent action and knowledge gaps that need to be addressed to build a better and more sustainable food system.

Lunch registration! Attendance of the talks is free and does not require registration. But for attendance of the lunch reception please register here:


09.00-09.15WELCOME (Jeroen Aerts, Verena Seufert, IVM)

John Ingram (Associate Professor, Food Systems Programme Leader, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford) – Food System Sustainability: The need to manage demand.
Liesbeth Temme (Senior Scientist, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), WHO Collaborating Centre for Nutrition) – The environmental and health impact of foods and diets in the Netherlands.
Ken Giller (Professor, Chair of Plant Production Systems, Wageningen Centre for Agroecology and Systems Analysis, Wageningen University) – The food security conundrum in Africa.
Tom Evans (Professor, School of Geography and Development, Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona) – Food Security and rural-urban linkages in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Fabrice DeClerck (Science Director, Eat Forum & Senior Scientist, Bioversity International, CGIAR) – The Wizard And the Prophet: food systems of the Andthropocene.

Ted Veldkamp (Assistant Professor, IVM) – Title tbd.
Katarzyna Negacz (Researcher, IVM) – Potential of salt-tolerant agriculture on saline degradedlands.
Jacqueline Davis (Postdoctoral Fellow, IVM) – Mapping food system dynamics in rapidly developing African cities.
Mark Koetse (Assistant Professor, IVM) – The effectiveness of financial incentives in changing farmer’s behaviour towards more sustainable agriculture.
PANEL DISCUSSION with keynote speakers (moderated by Jampel Dell’Angelo & Ted Veldkamp)


LUNCH RECEPTION (in Foyer, vegetarian) with poster presentations by IVM students working on food system topics:
Perrine Laroche (PhD student, IVM) – Beyond reducing the environmental burden – dietary shifts transform telecouplings.
Marthe Wens (PhD student, IVM) – Simulating drought adaptation decisions in semi-arid Kenya: an agent-based socio-hydrologic model.
Niels Debonne (PhD student, IVM) – Small, medium and large farms in Nakuru County, Kenya: evaluating the importance of farm scale.
Catherine Fayet (MSc student, IVM) – The resilience of organic yields under climate variability.
Nathalie Gröfke (MSc student, School of Business and Economics) – A multi-stakeholder perspective on food labelling for environmental sustainability: Attitudes, barriers and solution orientations.
Josephine Ris (MSc student, IVM) – Misconceptions of Millennials: A study on the role of knowledge in achieving sustainable dietary change amongst Dutch Millennials.