Louise Fresco

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Louise Fresco
Fresco Louise Foto Henk Thomas.jpg
Born (1952-02-11) 11 February 1952 (age 66)
Meppel, Netherlands
Alma materWageningen University

Louise Ottilie Fresco (born 11 February 1952 in Meppel) is a Dutch scientist, director and writer.


Current academic positions[edit]

Fresco was appointed a University Professor at the University of Michigan (UvA) in June 2005. In this position, especially created for her, Professor Fresco specialises in the foundations of sustainable development in an international context. Louise Fresco is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) since 2009,[1] a non-resident member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry in Stockholm, a corresponding member of the Real Academia de Ingeniería in Madrid, and a member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities. Fresco further holds a visiting professorship at the Institute of Earth Sciences at Stanford University and at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Palo Alto, in the United States. She is also an honorary professor at Wageningen University.

Other current activities[edit]

Outside academia, Fresco is a member of the Supervisory Board of Rabobank Nederland, one of the largest banks currently operating in the agricultural sector worldwide. She was named a non-executive director at Unilever in 2009, is a Crown-appointed member of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER), and a member of the Trilateral Commission and of the Governing Council of the United Nations University. In 2015 she participated in the conference of the Bilderberg Group. She participated in the World Policy Conference in 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2016. In addition, she holds seats on the boards of the Erasmus Prize Foundation and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, is a member of the Council of Advisors for the World Food Prize and adviser to the OCP Group (Office Chérifien des Phosphates). She also chairs the Compagnie Fonds and its Board of Professors of the Maritime Museum in Amsterdam. In May 2010 she was among the members of the InterAcademy Council ’s international scientific team appointed by the United Nations to investigate the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Last but not least, she is a member of the jury of the 2011 (Dutch) Libris Literature Prize. Since 2011 Fresco is a member of the advisory council of The Hague Institute for Global Justice, member of the Nederlands-Franse Samenwerkingsraad and member of The Dutch Safety Board in the Netherlands. Fresco is the chair of the Research School Accreditation Committee (KNAW) and of the Nationaal Platform Rio+20.

Louise Fresco was appointed as President of the Executive Board of Wageningen University and Research Centre from 1 July 2014. She succeeded Aalt Dijkhuizen.[2]

Previous academic, advisory and professional activities[edit]

Fresco obtained her doctoral degree with honours from Wageningen University in 1986, where she specialised in tropical agriculture. As professor of plant production systems at Wageningen from 1990 until 1997 her research focused on tropical regions. Fresco had a major hand in the educational reforms that advanced interdisciplinary cooperation between the fields of plant-breeding and soil science and the social sciences. During this period she was also involved in fieldwork in Spain, West Africa and Latin America. Since beginning her fieldwork career with UN projects in Papua New Guinea and Zaire/Congo in the latter half of the 1970s, Fresco’s work has taken her to more than 60 countries outside Europe and North America. From 1997 until 1999 she was director of research at the Agriculture Department of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome, and in January 2000 went on to become that organisation’s assistant director-general for Agriculture. In this position, which she held until May 2006, she was responsible for all technical activities in the areas of agricultural production (including nutrition from 2005 onwards). Prior to these activities she held posts as chair of the (Dutch) Advisory Council for Environmental and Nature Research and as co-founder and chairing member of the Land Use and Land Cover Change Project (LUCC) of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). From 1986 onwards Fresco served in various capacities at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), for example as evaluator at the International Potato Institute. She long held a seat on the Board of the West African Rice Development Association in Côte d'Ivoire and also sat on the Board of the Asian Vegetable Research Center in Taiwan. In the 2005/2006 academic year, Leiden University appointed Fresco as its Cleveringa Chair, and in 2006 she was selected to deliver the Rabobank Duisenberg Lecture at the annual WB/IMF meeting in Singapore. From 2006 until 2007 she served as chair of the panel for the review of the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP), a programme set up jointly by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions of Global Change Programme (IDHP). As a member of the Delta Committee in 2007–2008, she was involved in the design of a long term plan to protect the Dutch coastline and hinterland from the consequences of the expected rise in sea level and climate change. She has also been on the jury of the Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences.


Fresco has published both in academic journals and in the popular media. She writes a fortnightly column for the leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad and is a frequent contributor to several radio and television programmes. In addition to her scholarly publications, Fresco has also authored or co-authored eight non-scholarly books in Dutch, including three novels. She is a member of the PEN worldwide association of writers, which advocates freedom of expression and acts on behalf of writers who are oppressed for their views, as well as of the Dutch Writer’s Guild (VvL). In 2010 was ranked 26th – and as the second woman – in the (Dutch) Volkskrant newspaper’s Top 200 list of the most influential people in the Netherlands and 13th in the (Dutch) Trouw newspaper’s ‘Sustainable 100’.



  • Bambusa (1990)
  • De kosmopolieten (2003)
  • De tuin van de sultan van Rome (2005)
  • De utopisten (2007)


  • Schaduwdenkers & lichtzoekers (1998) (Huizingalezing)
  • Nieuwe spijswetten: over voedsel en verantwoordelijkheid (2006)
  • Het einde van de universiteit (volgens een rapport van de Universiteit van Oeloemia) (2007) (diesrede UvA)
  • Hamburgers in het paradijs : voedsel in tijden van schaarste en overvloed (2012)



  1. ^ "Louise Fresco" (in Dutch). Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  2. ^ http://www.wageningenur.nl/en/newsarticle/Louise-O.-Fresco-new-President-of-Wageningen-UR.htm

External links[edit]