02 June 2022, US: Prof. Louise O. Fresco, President of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), was presented the Norman E. Borlaug Medallion by World Food Prize Foundation President, Barbara Stinson, at a special celebration at the university.
Stinson explained that the Borlaug Medallion, which was created to recognize world leaders and institutions whose actions have greatly benefited humankind, but who would not be eligible to receive the World Food Prize itself, was being presented to “honor Wageningen University & Research for extraordinary innovation in life sciences research and advancement, and Fresco’s enormous impact addressing global food and nutrition security. Few leaders and institutions of higher education, research and application have done more to advance healthy, resilient, sustainable food systems.”
Stinson went on to say that she was particularly pleased to present the medallion to Louise O. Fresco, on the occasion of her farewell from the University after two highly successful two terms as President. “With her leadership, WUR has elevated and sustained its role as a premier institution of higher learning in agriculture and life sciences, consistently ranking as one of the world’s top universities in these critical fields.”
“I am truly honored and grateful, both personally and as president of Wageningen University & Research,” said President Fresco. “WUR values the importance of what Norman Borlaug taught us about food security. The Borlaug Youth Institute, which made its debut in Europe in 2018 during WUR’s centennial, is crucial in teaching new generations about what Norman Borlaug believed in. Especially during times when war threatens the worldwide food security. Food security has now taken on a whole new meaning for a whole new generation. People who never thought about threats to their food supply are now suddenly forced to think about it. It is the legacy of Norman Borlaug that can give us hope and answers.’
Wageningen University & Research is unique in being the only university in the Netherlands to focus on healthy food and the living environment, fulfilling its powerful mission ‘to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life.’
In recognition of her demonstrated global leadership in advancing food security, President Fresco was invited to serve as a member of the World Food Prize Foundation Council of Advisors in 2010. In this capacity, she advises the organization on its mission to elevate innovations and inspire action, particularly to sustainably increase the quality, quantity and availability of food for all.
At the World Food Prize International Borlaug Dialogue in 2017, President Fresco announced that she was taking an emphatic step to carry forward Norman Borlaug’s vision for inspiring the next generation of young leaders in global food security and agricultural development by establishing the first World Food Prize Youth Institute in Europe. The inaugural Institute was held alongside Wageningen University’s Centennial Celebration and Sustainable Development Goals – Towards Zero Hunger: Partnerships for Impact Conference, August 2018.
Since the creation of the Wageningen Youth Institute in 2018, over 3,000 students across Europe have been engaged in food-security-focused projects and activities, researching and proposing their innovative solutions to the most pressing problems facing food systems around the world.
More than 150 students from 75 schools across the Netherlands, Croatia, Czech Republic, and Spain have participated in the Wageningen Youth Institute, held annually in March, where students and educators explore and discuss food security’s greatest problems with World Food Prize Laureates, WUR faculty and researchers, and local and global experts.
Many of these promising young leaders go on to attend the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute each October in the United States. Stinson noted, “Louise had a very special relationship with Dr. Borlaug, and is deserving of special recognition for all she and the University have done to fulfill Borlaug’s legacy, elevate the World Food Prize, and to inspire and empower the next generation of young agricultural innovators and entrepreneurs, a mission dear to Norman Borlaug’s heart.”
“Over the past decade, Wageningen University and Research and the World Food Prize have worked closely to advance a shared vision of elevating innovation and inspiring action in the global effort to end hunger,” Stinson said. “Truly, it is so fitting and timely to offer this top-tier agricultural university, and President Louise Fresco, the Norman E. Borlaug Medallion.”
In the past, The Dr. Norman Borlaug Medallion has been presented to King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand; the Sasakawa Family and its Nippon Foundation of Japan; Kofi Annan for his leadership of the United Nations; the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities in the United States; the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement in Mexico; Texas A & M University; the University of Minnesota, and most recently Iowa State University. Details about the World Food Prize Borlaug Medallion and a downloadable image are available online at www.worldfoodprize.org/borlaugmedallion.