Primary position

Prof. Louise O. Fresco has been the President of the Wageningen University & Research Executive Board since 1 July 2014.


Current additional positions (academic)

Louise Fresco is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (based in Stockholm), a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Engineering of Spain (based in Madrid), a member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities and a foreign member of the French Academy of Agriculture. She is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar of the Academy of Science of South Africa. In addition, she is a Professor at Wageningen University and a corresponding member of Belgium's Royal Academy of Overseas Sciences.


Current additional positions (non-academic)

Since 2009 Louise Fresco has been a non-executive member of the board of Unilever and since 2013 she has been the chair of Unilever's Corporate Responsibility Committee (a paid position). She is a member of the board of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, a member of the editorial board of the literary journal De Gids, a member of the Council of Advisors of the World Food Prize and a member of the Strategic Committee of the Moroccan OCP Group (Office Chérifien des Phosphates), columnist at NRC Handelsblad and chair of the selection board of the Johannes van Damprize.


Former scientific, advisory and professional activities

Fresco obtained her doctorate in Tropical Plant Breeding and Production Systems cum laude in 1986 from Wageningen University. From 1990 to 1997 she was a Professor of Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University, specialising in tropical regions. During this period she took a significant role in the educational reforms focusing on interdisciplinary cooperation, in particular between plant breeding and soil science and the social sciences. She was also involved in extensive fieldwork in Spain, West Africa and Latin America.

In the second half of the 1970s Fresco started her fieldwork career with the UN in Papua New Guinea and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Since that time she has visited more than sixty countries outside Europe and North America for professional purposes.

From 1997 to 1999 she was the Director of Research in the Agriculture Department of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, headquartered in Rome. From January 2000 to May 2006 she was the Assistant Director-General of this organisation, responsible for technological issues in the area of agricultural production, and later in the area of food provision.

Prior to this, she was the chair of the Adviesraad voor Onderzoek naar Natuur en Milieu ('advisory council for research into nature and the environment') and the co-founder and chair of the Land Use and Cover Change (LUCC) project of the International Geosphere‐Biosphere Programme (IGBP).

Since 1986 Fresco has held various positions within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), including working as an evaluator at the International Potato Institute and a long period spent as a member of the board of the West Africa Rice Development Association, based in Ivory Coast. She was also a member of the board of the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center, based in Taiwan.

In the 2005-2006 academic year she held the Cleveringa chair at Leiden University.

In 2006-2007 she was the chair of the inspectorate of the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP), the joint programme of the International Geosphere Biosphere-Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions of Global Change Programme (IDHP).

In addition, she was a member of the Netherlands' Delta Committee from 2007-2008. The Delta Committee focused on the protection of the Dutch coast and hinterland against the consequences of the expected rises in sea level and climate changes.

In May 2010 Fresco became a member of the international science team of the InterAcademy Council, which investigated the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at the request of the United Nations.

Prior to that, she was a member of the jury for the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences. In 2011 she was a member of the jury for the Libris Literature Award.

In June 2011 she was appointed chair of the Dutch National Platform Rio+20, which prepared the Dutch contribution to the United Nations summit on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro.

From 2007 to 2013 she was a member of the board of the United Nations University in Tokyo.

From 2006 to 2014, Fresco was a member of the Supervisory Board of Rabobank Nederland, one of the world's largest banks in the agricultural sector.

In addition, from 2007 to 2014 she was a Crown-appointed member and a member of the Board of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER).

She was the chair of Het Compagnie Fonds, the donor fund of Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum) and the chair of the professors' chamber within the fund.

From 2010 to 2013 she was a Trustee of the Shell Foundation.

From 2011 to 2014 she was a member of the Advisory Council of The Hague Institute for Global Justice.

From 2012 to 2014 Fresco was an extraordinary board member of the Dutch Safety Board and of the strategic advisory board of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

From June 2006 to July 2014 Fresco was a University Professor at the University of Amsterdam, focusing on the foundations of sustainable development in an international perspective. During her scientific career she taught abroad.


Selected lectures

  • •   A treaty on animal production and other revisions in the Book of Agriculture and Food
        Address on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of Wageningen University & Research,
  • •   Food, Scarcity and Abundance
        Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, Stockholm, 2013
  • •   Al door het zeggen van het woord ('Just by saying the word')
        Abel Herzberg Lecture, 2012
  • •   Feiten in overvloed ('Facts in abundance')
        Kohnstamm Lecture, 2011
  • •   Van de vette streken der aarde en overvloed van koren
        ('Earth's richness and an abundance of grain')
        Victor Westhoff Lecture, 2010
  • •   Vlees noch vis ('Neither fish nor flesh')
        UV Lecture, University of Amsterdam, 2009
  • •   De smaak van het zonlicht ('The taste of sunlight')
        Groeneveld Lecture upon acceptance of the Groeneveld Award, 2008
  • •   Het einde van de universiteit ('The end of the university')
        Foundation Day Address, University of Amsterdam, 2007
  • •   Biomass, food and sustainability
        Rabobank Duisenberg Lecture, 2006
  • •   Nieuwe Spijswetten ('New dietary laws')
        Cleveringa Address, 2005
  • •   Schaduwdenkers en Lichtzoekers ('Shadow-thinkers and light-seekers')
        Huizinga Lecture, 1998



Fresco has published an extensive collection of articles in both scientific journals and the popular media. She writes a fortnightly column for the newspaper NRC Handelsblad and is regularly asked to participate in national and international radio and television programmes.

She has published nine non-scientific books in Dutch, including three novels.

In October 2012 she published the book 'Hamburgers in Paradise. Food in times of Scarcity and Abundance'. The book is published in English by Princeton University Press and in French by Julliard Laffont. In 2014 she published Kruisbestuiving (‘Cross –Pollination’) about art, science and life. In 2015 a new edition of De tuin van de sultan van Rome (‘The garden of the Sultan of Rome’) has been released.

She is also a member of PEN International, the worldwide association of writers which fights for freedom of expression and works on behalf of writers who are oppressed for their views. She is a member of the Vereniging van Letterkundigen (Dutch Writers Guild). Fresco is also an enthusiastic supporter of the arts.

In 2013 she worked on a six-part documentary, Fresco's Paradijs ('Fresco's Paradise'), for the Dutch broadcasting station Omroep Human. This documentary was broadcast on the Dutch television station Nederland 2 on a weekly basis starting 13 October 2013.



Because of 'her unremitting efforts to bring the efforts of science to the awareness of the general public,' Louise Fresco was awarded the Comenius Prize in 2014.

On the occasion of the 95th Foundation Day of Wageningen University on 15 March 2013, Prof Louise Fresco received the Outstanding Alumnus Award.

On 21 March 2013 the Royal Dutch Society of Engineers (KIVI NIRIA) appointed Prof Louise Fresco as an honorary member. KIVI NIRIA grants honorary memberships to show appreciation to people who have been important to the field of technology in general.

In 2016 she was number 22 on the list 'Top 200 of most influential Dutch people' published by de Volkskrant (Dutch newspaper)

In 2009 she was invited to be a speaker at the TED Conference in Palm Springs, California.

In 2008 she received the Groeneveld Award, which is granted annually to a person who or organisation that has contributed particular efforts to the debate about nature and landscape, thereby stating their own critical ideas.


Texts of the lectures

Video's of the lectures


External links



You are free to use this picture of Louise O. Fresco for publication on the condition that you will mention the name of the photographer Jeroen Oerlemans


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