THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT DIPLOMACY MASTER TRACK AT WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY
Sustainable Development Diplomacy (SDD) is a special track within the master programs Climate Studies (MCL), Environmental Sciences (MES), Forest and Nature Conservation (MFN) and International Development Studies (MID) of Wageningen University, the Netherlands (hereafter referred to as the “SDD master programs”). SDD arrived at Wageningen University in 2009. Representatives of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs (abbreviated as EZ), the World Bank, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University (abbreviated as ‘Fletcher’ below), and of the university itself, decided to start an SDD program at WUR and agreed upon a Memorandum of Understanding. This partnership started as an Executive Course on SDD in 2009, but evolved into a full Master Track at WUR, and an international PhD Program.
The purpose of the program is to provide (future) academics, practitioners and leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors a combination of theory and practice of international diplomacy and negotiations in the field of sustainable development. In doing so allowing them to better understand, analyze and tackle the world’s most challenging problems. Rationales for this SDD master track are (at least) threefold: academic, normative and pragmatic.
The nature of the ‘new’ diplomacy (see ‘What is SDD?’) is, so far, neither well understood nor are its claims rigorously tested. Therefore, academic research and teaching are badly needed (academic rationale).
Secondly, current global issues (e.g. climate change, deforestation, desertification) are challenging the world’s organizational and institutional capacity to address them. The international community has agreed, since the Rio Summit in 1992, that sustainable development should be the road to navigate humanity out of these crises. This approach, though, implies both intra- and intergenerational equity as well as the maintenance of the carrying capacity of the earth. New ways of diplomacy and new innovative governance arrangements are needed to better attain these goals. Such diplomacy and governance should, according to some scholars, be much more stakeholder-inclusive, evidence-based, cross-sectoral, and integrative rather than distributive, thus addressing the ‘real’ root causes of sustainability issues (normative rationale).
Thirdly, many alumni of Wageningen University continue their careers at international negotiation institutions, like the EU or the UN. Or they become involved – for example as mediators – in sustainability conflicts among stakeholders at local levels in Europe, Africa or Latin-America. Yet they are neither educated in knowledge and theories of negotiations and diplomacy nor trained in related skills. This master track fills this gap (pragmatic rationale).
The selective procedure for the SDD Master Track is organized in the second half of September just after the start of each academic year, starting with an information meeting close to September 15. During this presentation, prospective SDD students are provided with further information on the application process and the track itself. Current SDD students are present in this presentation to answer questions raised by interested students. After the introductory event, interested students will have enough time to prepare their application documents. New SDD students are selected on the basis of their motivation letters and an interview with the coordinator of the track. Since this application procedure might change from time to time, more detailed information will be given during the introductory presentation.
Exact dates and steps in the procedure will be announced through study advisors of the respective master programs (MCL, MES, MFN, MID) and on relevant social media in the beginning of September. Study advisors also provide details about the implications of a participation in the SDD master track on the program-specific schedule.
Students following this SDD Track become part of the SDD Community.
We are a community of practice of current and alumni SDD students. We are a dynamic and diverse group from different backgrounds and with varying interests and nationalities who have followed or are still following the SDD Track since its launch in 2012. While we are a diverse group, we find common ground in our interest in the field of sustainable development and how governance, negotiations, and diplomacy play a role in this.
The SDD Community organizes master classes, field trips, invites different speakers, attends conferences, writes blogs, shares SDD related news, generates new SDD information and organizes other activities exclusively for SDD Wageningen students and alumni. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences that we learn from each other and further develop ourselves personally and professionally. As the community grows, we create a global network of young professionals striving to make a positive impact on local, regional and global decision making to tackle the many challenges we face today.
The SDD Community Wageningen is coordinated by three committees:
Chair: Eirini Sakellari (email@example.com)
The communication committee is in charge of all the flow of information running through the SDD Community – it designs, edits, and maintains visual content for the SDD Community. We maintain and collect content for the SDD Facebook page, website, and the journal ‘The Envoy’. We also aim to keep the SDD Community and Network together. The committee maintains the network of SDD students, Alumni, staff, and our growing network with other individuals and institutions.
Chair: Robin Verheij (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The activities committee organises various SDD related events. Activities like seminars, masterclasses, excursions and (in)formal drinks are the core business of this group. These activities are organized on and off Wageningen University campus.
Contact person: Marco Schurer Drews (email@example.com)
The institutional committee aims on expanding recognition of the SDD track and its Community, both within and outside of Wageningen University. They will make sure that comments on courses will make it to the right people and will negotiate on funds and other extras.
Sustainable Development is a well-known concept these days. All developments need to be sustainable to secure a good quality of life for current and future generations. The main themes that are associated with sustainable development include, energy, biodiversity, seas and oceans, and people. These are demonstrated in blue, yellow, green and orange. These 4 themes are both future challenges as future solutions. Although they are the challenges we need to face, the innovative answers to tackle them lay within them.
The term Sustainable Development Diplomacy (SDD), however, is relatively young. Diplomacy is about connecting, creating conversations, networking, negotiating and much more. The 5th hexagon illustrates the concepts’ complexity and interconnectedness of the 4 themes and diplomacy. It is a web or network of connections and conversations in which decisions are made that contribute to a sustainable growth.