Towards a Natural Social Contract

Dr. Patrick Huntjens is Professor of ‘Social Innovation and Governance for Sustainability’ at the Research and Innovation Centre Agri, Food and Life Sciences (RIC-AFL), Inholland University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands. In addition, he is Professor of ‘Governance of Sustainability Transitions’ at Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI), The School of Business and Economics (SBE), Maastricht University.

From 2017-2019 he was Director of The Hague Humanitarian Cooperative for Water (HHCW), from 2013-2017 Head of Water Diplomacy and Climate Governance at The Hague Institute for Global Justice, and from 2011-2013, he was Director of the Water Partner Foundation. At Wageningen University and Research (WUR) he was coordinator of the Centre of Excellence – Governance of Climate Adaptation from 2010-2012, after working as Coordinator of EU-Asia relations on Water Governance in the EU-funded multi-stakeholder platform ASEM-Waternet (2006-2010). In the period 2000-2006 he worked as a policy officer for the Netherlands Government and as an international consultant for Royal HaskoningDHV. 

With 23 years of professional experience, and working in more than 40 countries, his work focuses on environmental governance and diplomacy, societal innovation and sustainability transitions at multiple levels (global to local). He is spearheading a Research and Innovation Agenda with a core focus on the governance of sustainability transitions, with specific attention for issues of politics and power in transitions, and drawing on the wider field of governance, innovation and transition studies as well as other fields like complexity theory and systems theory. Ongoing research and educational activities include 1) transition to a sustainable and healthy agri-food system, 2) governance of urban sustainability transitions, and 3) transition to circular and regenerative economies and cultures. 

Patrick has a multi-disciplinary background, including a Ph.D. (Magna Cum Laude) in Complex System Sciences and Policy Sciences, an MSc Degree (Cum Laude) in Political Science & International Relations and an MSc Degree in Ecology and Environmental Management. His PhD-dissertation was endorsed by Prof. Dr. Elinor Ostrom, the first woman in history receiving the Nobel Prize in Economics.

He solidifies his expertise with activities on the ground, mainly as international team leader, consultant, action researcher, process manager and mediator. For example, from 2014 to 2015 he was lead mediator (Track II) in the Israeli-Palestinian water conflict, assigned by the Geneva Initiative and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Other clients include the World Bank, United Nations, European Commission, various governments and NGOs.

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