News - September 7, 2006

Party leader Wouter Bos opens academic year

With the forthcoming elections in November in mind, Wouter Bos, the leader of the PvdA social democrats, declared that his party would be investing an extra four billion euros in education, including 250 million for fundamental scientific research. Bos was speaking at the opening of the academic year in Wageningen on Monday 4 September.

Bos also said that he wants to reduce the government bureaucracy, including the research review committees and education inspections. He also intends to simplify the resident permit procedures for foreign students. According to Bos, an attitude of openness, tolerance and hospitality towards students and researchers is vital for a flourishing research environment and a strong knowledge economy.

Bos went on to say that his party intends to make big investments in sustainable energy. The aim is that the Netherlands has the cleanest and most efficient energy in Europe by 2020, halving dependence on fossil fuels by half. Bos intends to invest a billion euros a year in the development of new technology for clean energy.

The leader of the PvdA was impressed by the new technology developed by the Wetsus centre for sustainable water technology in Wageningen, which uses advanced mixing of salt and fresh water to generate energy. This form of energy could provide the Netherlands with 7500 megawatts, equivalent to the energy from twenty nuclear power stations, declared Bos.

He also sees opportunities for biofuel production, and hopes that Wageningen UR and Energy Valley in Groningen will collaborate on the subject. He speculated about the development of organic solar cells: ‘I realise that these are future visions, but without ideals and ambitions we will not get any further. No guts, no glory.’

Bos was full of praise for ‘this wonderful university’, saying that Wageningen has left its agricultural image behind. ‘It has become an expertise centre for ecology, food, life sciences, the green environment and now also the sea. This is of great importance for our knowledge economy, and in the search for renewable energy, and for sustainable food production both at home and abroad.’ / Albert Sikkema