Louise Fresco a highly motivated, enthusiastic individual who combines extensive international experience in food and agriculture with international development. A former high-ranking official with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization her main focus today is in building bridges between science and policy, and between the public and private sectors.
Dr. Louise Fresco is currently a Professor at the University of Amsterdam focusing on the foundations of sustainable development in an international perspective. She also holds a visiting professorship at the Institute of Earth Sciences at Stanford University and at the David and Lucille Packard Foundation in Palo Alto, in the United States. She is also a Distinguished Professor at Wageningen University. In 2011 Fresco took seat in the advisory council of The Hague Institute for Global Justice.
Dr. Fresco was the first woman to ever obtain a Ph.D. in Tropical Agronomy from Wageningen University, where she later taught and led the department of agronomy. She also chaired the National Council for Environmental and Nature Research in the Netherlands and participated in many national committees on science and education policy.
Dr. Fresco has served extensively on boards and evaluation committees for several Consultative Groups on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) centers and currently serves as a non-executive director of Unilever, and as a board member of Rabobank, one of the largest cooperative banks in the world.
Between 1991 and 1997 she worked as professor of crop production systems of the tropics and sub-tropics at Wageningen University. Working at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization from 1997 to 2006 – first as director of research, extension and training and later as assistant director-general – Dr. Fresco oversaw major reforms towards more flexibility in responding to worldwide agricultural crises, increased collaboration with the private sector and NGOs, and a better gender balance.
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.
She 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 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). She is also a member of the jury of the 2011 (Dutch) Libris Literature Prize.
Dr. Fresco writes on international environmental and economic policy for the Dutch paper NRC Handelsblad and is a popular novelist. Her novel, De Utopisten (The Utopians), was nominated for the Netherlands’ major literary prize in 2008. In the same year she was also ranked as number 34 in the country’s top 200 influential people (the 4th woman on the list).
Louise Fresco is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), 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.
Throughout her professional career, Dr. Fresco has focused on shaping policy on sustainable agriculture, the effects of climate change on vegetation and land use, and forging partnerships between the non-governmental and private sector communities. She has traveled professionally to over 50 developing countries, particularly in Africa and Latin America.
As food, climate and water crises loom, Louise Fresco is looking hard at how we cultivate our crops and tend our livestock on a global scale. An expert on agriculture and sustainability, Fresco shows how cities and rural communities will remain tied through food, even as populations and priorities shift among them.