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PhD Sustainable finance in the Dutch dairy sector

Job description:The Business Economics (BEC) group starts a PhD project on the understanding of sustainable finance in the Dutch dairy sector. The overarching objective of this PhD is to understand the mechanism of how ...

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Bornsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur


Job description:
The Business Economics (BEC) group starts a PhD project on the understanding of sustainable finance in the Dutch dairy sector. The overarching objective of this PhD is to understand the mechanism of how financing sources can stimulate SI. The PhD candidate will use econometric methods, especially in the field of production economics. The project should result in publishable research output.

The sustainable intensification (SI) of the European agricultural sector is currently high on the political agenda. This entails increasing productivity whilst reducing pressure on the environment and business risk. SI requires substantial investment targeted to sustainable, climate-smart technologies. SI also offers future reinvestment possibilities that can be again targeted at SI. The Dutch agricultural sector traditionally invests at lower levels than do other sectors, jeopardising the desired transition. The farm mostly needs to acquire additional capital to finance its investment. An important barrier to do so is the reluctance of for-profit banks to finance farms, mainly due to the higher risk profile of the agricultural sector. This is especially the case since the implementation of the Basel III norms, internationally agreed upon in 2010 and subsequently revised in 2017. These measures are set up to strengthen the regulation, supervision and risk management of the bank sector, in response to the financial crisis of 2007-2008. In practice, this leads to more emphasis on liquidity and lower or more expensive loans to the farm with a higher input of equity. Various non-traditional financing sources have recently become alternatives to for-profit banks such as family loans, crowdfunding, leasing and non-profit banks. Nevertheless, they are used only infrequently at this moment (Stevens, 2016). There seems to be a mismatch between the willingness of non-traditional financers to invest and the limited usage of these non-traditional sources. Most notably, the European Investment Bank has explicitly stated that it is willing to generously finance Dutch farms, but that there are barely any applicants. In summary, SI should be achieved through appropriate investment. Although there are several financing possibilities, such investment currently only materialises to a limited extent.

Background references:
Mahon, N., Crute, I., Simmons, E., Islam, M. M. (2017). Sustainable intensification - "oxymoron" or "third-way"? A systematic review. Ecological Indicators 74: 73-97.
OECD (2016). Sustainable productivity growth in agriculture: Trends and policy performance, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Washington DC: IFPRI.
Bron, J. C. (2016). EIB wil miljoenen investeren in landbouw. Boerderij.
Settlements, B. f. I. (2017). High-level summary of Basel III reforms, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Washington DC: IFPRI.
Stevens, R. (2016). Nieuwe manieren van financieren. Boerderij.


What we look for:
We are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:
  • An MSc in the area of agricultural, financial or environmental economics
  • Well-developed econometric modelling skills
  • An interest in analysing agricultural sustainability from an economic perspective
  • Excellent oral and written communication in English, and good communication skills
  • Experience with production economics is an advantage


In principle this is a 48 month PhD position. We offer you a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended with 30 monthsafter a positive evaluation. Salary will increase from € 2,222 gross per month in the first year up to € 2,840 in the last year, based on full-time employment (38 hours a week). In addition, we offer a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary.

Additional information

Contact information:
Additional information about this project can be obtained from Prof. Dr Miranda Meuwissen (miranda.meuwissen@wur.nl) or Dr Frederic Ang (frederic.ang@wur.nl).
To apply for this position upload your CV and a letter of motivation before March 18 2018.
For this position you can only apply online: www.wageningenur.nl/career
Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.


Who we are:
The successful applicant will be based at the Business Economics Group (BEC, WU). The mission of BEC is to analyse and support decision making of actors in food supply chains by analysing and evaluating their risks and their economic, environmental and social performance. WU is internationally renowned for its research and education in the fields of life sciences and sustainability. Through these activities it aims to make essential contributions to the quality of life.