HSE University Strengthens Ties with Netherlands in Agricultural Research and Education

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In his welcoming speech, HSE University Rector Nikita Anisimov noted that international cooperation has been a main priority of the university since its founding in 1992, adding that one of the university’s first international partners was Erasmus University Rotterdam. ‘Today, HSE University cooperates with ten universities in the Netherlands in a wide range of research and educational fields. Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is our first partner in the field of agricultural research and education, which are new and highly important fields for our university,’ he said.

Dutch Ambassador to Russia Gilles Beschoor Plug congratulated attendees on the signing of the memorandum, which will serve as the basis for research and educational cooperation between the universities. Mr Plug said that student and academic exchanges will promote greater mutual understanding, and that cooperation will lead to fruitful new projects and research.

Since 2018, researchers and experts of the HSE University Institute for Agrarian Studies (InAgRes) have developed long-term, productive relations with WUR at international conferences and symposia. The expert centres host a large number of promising agricultural research projects that serve as the basis of the memorandum.

The document covers a variety of areas related to issues and future opportunities in agricultural production and sustainable development in rural regions of Russia. Topics of interest include reducing losses, recycling agricultural waste products, developing higher agricultural education, and more.

Professor Louise Fresco, President of the WUR Executive Board, highlighted Russia’s huge agricultural potential and its important role in international relations and tackling climate change. Professor Fresco also noted that modern sustainable development requires input from the agricultural and food industries. ‘The issues of food supply, agriculture, climate, stability and sustainable development are very closely linked. We work on these issues in many parts of the world, and we are ready to share our experience and knowledge with our colleagues from Russia.’

Professor Fresco noted that WUR strives to produce high-quality research and education, and has been the top agrarian university in the Netherlands for 17 years. She also highlighted the importance of ‘valuing what we do,’ not only in terms of economics and intellectual property rights, but also in terms of what the university can give back to society.

During the ceremony one of the key cooperating academics from WUR, Sigrid Wertheim-Heck, Associate Professor, Global Food System Sustainability at the Environmental Policy Group of Wageningen University & Research, reflected on the different cooperation initiatives implemented together with HSE University in joint projects and events that developed across several departments of WUR in life sciences specializations and units, such as in transitions to sustainable food systems, urban-rural development, social and environmental sciences, agro-economy, sustainable farming systems, food waste and food loss etc., as well as in education and training programmes. On her side, Prof. Evgenia Serova, Director of the Institute for Agrarian Studies at HSE University gave examples of several important events organized together with the WUR colleagues during the last three years to exchange knowledge between different researchers, policy makers and educators. Ms. Serova noted that the Institute for Agrarian Studies recently celebrated the three-year anniversary of its establishment as part of the university, and that it has shared close ties with Wageningen University & Research from its inception.

The development of the cooperation initiatives between WUR-wide organization and the InAgRes at HSE University has been reinforced by the international relations unit of WUR for Central & Eastern Europe, coordinated by Dr. Vanya Simeonova-van der Grift, and by key academics from InAgRes, such as the Head of department of Rural Development Studies of InAgRes, As. Prof. Dr. Alexey Naumov and Nadezhda Orlova Head, Department for Economics of Innovation in Agriculture. The MoU will serve as a solid basis to extend this cooperation and continue and develop new bilateral and broader international initiatives between the different teams.

At the end of the signing ceremony, Nikita Anisimov said that HSE University is also open to discuss cooperation possibilities with counterpart faculties and research centres in such timely fields as biology, biotechnology, geoinformatics, climate change, sustainable development and more. He also invited Professor Fresco and other colleagues from Wageningen University & Research to visit HSE University.