About the Track

The Sustainable Development Diplomacy Master Track at Wageningen University

Sustainable Development Diplomacy 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”). This special track was designed in cooperation with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University, Cambridge, Mass., USA (abbreviated as ‘Fletcher’ below), the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs (abbreviated as EZ), and the Sustainability Challenge Foundation (SCF). 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, 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. Firstly, new types of diplomacy seems to emerge on – amongst others -sustainability issues, sometimes referred to as the ‘new’ diplomacy, ‘inclusive’ diplomacy, ‘informal’ diplomacy or ‘guerilla’ diplomacy. These terms refer to other ways of doing international negotiations than through the traditional, nation state, foreign affairs and international security oriented diplomacy. Some authors claim that this ‘new’ diplomacy is very different from the traditional one. It is multi-actor (including non-state actors in international negotiations), multi-level (local issues and actors do appear at international negotiation tables, just as global issues and actors do), multi-rule (soft law is currently considered as relevant as hard law) and multi-sector (going beyond security issues and single issues, an example being sustainable development). Indeed, non-state actors are now allowed to play their roles in international diplomacy (think about environmental NGOs and their impact on international treaties), whereas private or public-private instruments to address sustainability issues are emerging (e.g. certification schemes for sustainable products, payment for ecosystem services, REDD+, etc.). However, the nature of this ‘new’ diplomacy is neither well understood nor are its claims rigorously tested. Academic research and teaching are therefore badly needed (academic rationale).

Secondly, current global issues – climate change, deforestation, desertification, food shortages, etc. – are challenging the world’s organizational and institutional capacity to address them. In fact, we appear to be confronted today not with a single crisis, but with multiple ones, from the financial to the ecological crisis. The international community has agreed, since the Rio Summit in 1992, that sustainable development should be the road to navigate 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. Yet governments alone are not capable of engaging in the negotiations of diplomacy and creating the institutions of governance that are required to move towards these objectives. New ways of diplomacy and new innovative governance arrangements seem therefore needed to better attain these goals. Such diplomacy and governance should, according to some scholars, be much more inclusive for stakeholders, more evidence-based, more cross-sectoral, integrative rather than distributive and addressing the ‘real’ root causes of sustainability issues (normativerationale).

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).

Selection Procedure

Selection for the SDD Master Track are done once per year, at the beginning of each Academic Year in September. A maximum of 12 students are admitted to the track every year. In september, an introduction presentation is given for those interested in following the track. Here there is space for prospective students to ask questions to make the best decision.

The selection procedure consists of writing a motivation letter and an interview of 15 minutes.

The Website

The website is developed and run by students and alumni in the SDD master track – the SDD Community Wageningen. It aims to share SDD related information, create discussions, highlight SDD topics and importance and offers a place for the concept of Sustainable Development and Diplomacy to grow and merge into a wider scope sustainable development.

The SDD Community Wageningen has 3 committees running through it.

Activities committee

Contact persons: Quinten Pellegrom & Roy Winkelhuijzen

The activities group 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.

Online Communications committee

Contact person: Rani Temmink

This committee maintains the network of SDD students, Alumni, staff, and others interested. It runs and gather content for the facebook page, website, and their journal The Envoy. It designs and edits any visual content for the SDD Community.

Institutional committee

Contact person: Hein Gevers & Yanniek Huisman

The institutional group 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.

The Logo

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.SDD Wageningen Logo.jpg



For general inquiries please e-mail sdd.wageningen@wur.nl

Curious to know who is in the SDD Community Wageningen? See students & professors 

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