Feeding the Billions

Challenges and Innovation in Food and Water Security

There are 7 billion people to feed today, and this number is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. This implies that more food is needed; more food means that more water is required for crop and livestock production. But how secure are our supplies of food and water? 

More specifically, what are the differences among regions in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia? What is the impact of climate change and what are the implications of current migration and urbanization trends for food, nutrition and water security? Agriculture is the biggest user of water on the globe, requiring large quantities of water for irrigation and production processes. How can food production be made more efficient, without compromising our water resources and the environment in general? Who are the key stakeholders in this domain and what is the role of the market in food production technologies and innovation?

Course levelAdvanced Bachelor/Master, open to PhD staff and professionals
Session 218 July to 1 August 2020
Recommended course combination in session 1
Governing Climate Change: Theory and Practice, The Global Energy Transition in a Fossil World
Co-ordinating lecturerDr Denyse Snelder,Dr Ralph Lasage, Dr Ben Sonneveld
Other lecturersMs Sabina Di Prima (PhD fellow), Dr Hans de Moel, Dr Ted Veldkamp
Form(s) of tuitionLectures, excursions, discussions, group work, videos
Form(s) of assessmentGroup poster, presentation and debate; one essay
ECTS3 credits
Contact hours45
Total tuition fee€1150, read more about what's included.
Students and professionals with an interest in food and water security issues. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please let us know. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professional with a wide variety of backgrounds.
In this course you examine a range of approaches towards food and water security, from international policy agreements to community-based activities. Theory is combined with practice in the lectures, the discussions and the excursions, with all providing concrete examples of how issues of food and water security are being analysed and addressed in various regions, at various levels and by various actors from science and society.

Food and water security is a major theme at VU Amsterdam, where it is embedded in the teaching and research work of the Centre for International Cooperation (CIS-VU) and the Amsterdam Centre for World Food Studies, a joint initiative of the School of Business and Economics (SBE) and the Athena Institute of the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences (FALW).

At the end of this course you will:

  • Better understand food and water security, its context (local to global), major challenges, innovative solutions and policies.
  • Understand and can explain major concepts and theories in this field.
  • Be able to select and apply appropriate transdisciplinary approaches in food and water security research, including the use of data-collection, analysis and presentation tools.
  • Have acquired the computational skills needed to process relevant data, evaluate outputs and synthesize the overall outcome.
  • Possess the communication skills needed to participate in current debates in the field of food and water security.
Visits to urban agriculture projects in Amsterdam and in the rural area near the city.


Denyse Snelder (PhD in the field of Sustainable Land and Water Management) holds a position at the Centre for International Cooperation (CIS), Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam. During lectures and workshops, she shares much of her field experience acquired over the years, managing multiple projects such as the WHaTeR project (EC) on Water Harvesting Technologies in Sub-Saharan, the STRONGBOW (Nuffic) on Natural Resource Management, Tourism, and Ecotourism, the ASALI programme on Research for A Sustainable Approach to Livelihood Improvement in Kenya, the SPADE project (Nuffic) on Spatial Planning for Agri-business and Public Policy Development in Kenya and the 3C project (Nuffic) on Natural Resource Management and Conflict Resolution for Stability and Inclusive Growth in the Greater Virunga Landscape (Rwanda, Uganda, DR Congo). 

“Finding ways in which we can achieve food and water security for billions of people in a world of growing scarcity is one, if not, the key challenge in the coming decades” 

Find out how to apply here.
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