‘The Netherlands is the proud host of the Global Co-ordination Secretariat (“GCS”) for the worldwide network of Food Innovation Hubs’, wrote Foodvalley; the leading European innovation hub in this network.
“It was great to have support for the initiative by Foodvalley members Mengniu Dairy, DSM and Unilever this week at the online WEF Davos panel session on the transformation of food systems,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on 26 January.
Foodvalley’s article continued: “More than 20 organisations are already working together as Food Innovation Hubs in Colombia, India, Europe, South-East Asia and several countries in Africa. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has provided multi-year support for the development of a Food Innovation Hub in India and several public and private sector partners have committed in-kind resources to support the development of hubs in various regions.”
What Foodvalley did not mention is that the Netherlands was host to the GCS because the Dutch government was planning to fund it.
Foodvalley also avoids pointing out that the initiative has “special attention for development and implementation of key enabling technologies e.g., Digitalisation Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, biotechnology and micro and nanotechnology in the Agri-Food sector.”
Pepijn van Houwelingen, a member of the Dutch House of Representatives, asked 42 written questions of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on 21 September 2021. On 17 December, Tom De Bruijn, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, provided answers to questions 10 and 12.
The relevant questions read (Google translate Dutch-English):
Question 2: Can there be a list of the status of cabinet members at the WEF?
Question 10: The answer to question 2 about the previous set of questions on this subject indicates that cabinet members are approached by the WEF, how are they approached? Is this done at the personal invitation of Schwab itself?
Question 12: Can we get those invites for inspection?
Assuming the Dutch government works in a broadly similar fashion to the UK government, written questions, or questions which require a written answer, allow Members of Parliament (“MPs”) to ask for information on the work, policy and activities of the Government departments, related bodies, and the administration of Parliament. They are used by MPs to extract more detailed information from the Government than would be practical in an oral answer.
The European Parliament has a similar system where questions with a request for a written answer may be put by any Member, political group, or parliamentary committee. Although in mid-November the European Parliament was deeply dissatisfied with the way in which the European Commission answers its written questions. “Those answers often come too late and are deliberately vague, incomplete, evasive or even completely beside the point.,” AD reported.
De Bruijn’s response to van Houwelingen’s questions 10 and 12 included a list and 7 sets of attachments consisting of World Economic Forum (“WEF”) correspondence with:
- Prime Minister Rutte (2016 – 2021);
- Foreign Affairs Minister Koenders, Minister Zijlstra and Minister Blok (2017 – 2018);
- Minister Ploumen, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Kaag and Minister De Bruijn (2016 – 2021);
- Public Health, Welfare and Sport Minister Schippers and Medical Care and Sport Minister Bruins (2016 – 2021);
- Economic Affairs and Climate Minister Wiebes and Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Minister Schouten (2019 – 2021);
- Finance Minister Hoekstra (2017 – 2021); and,
- Infrastructure and Water Management Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen, State Secretary Van Veldhoven and State Secretary Van Weyenberg (2019 – 2021).
Attached below is De Bruijn’s 17 December response listing the correspondence between WEF and Dutch government officials as summarised above (Google translate Dutch-English).
The first 8 pages of the first set of attachments (download HERE) contain correspondence relating to the creation of the GCS in the Netherlands for the global network of Food Innovation Hubs.
The Dutch government wrote a letter to WEF “on behalf of the Dutch Ministers of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and Agriculture, Nature and Food quality together with the Regional Food Agency Oost NL” prior to the official signing of the letter of intent.
“We strongly believe that establishing the GCS in the Netherlands will be mutually beneficial and proof of great benefit to the efficacy and impact of the global network of Food Innovation Hubs,” the letter stated.
The letter of intent was signed by Eric Wiebes, Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, on 8 December 2020 and by WEF on 5 January 2021.
Amongst other things, the letter of intent states: “The Dutch innovation and agricultural policy are very much in line with the topics that are considered crucial by WEF for Food System Transformation … missions have been defined in line with the SDG addressing topics like of sustainability circular agriculture, safe, healthy and affordable food for all climate neutrality as well as consumer behaviour. There is special attention to development and implementation of key enabling technologies e.g., Digitalisation Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, biotechnology and micro and nanotechnology in the Agri-Food sector.”
The letter of intent concludes that “the anticipated outcome for both Participants Is the establishment of the WEF GCS in the Netherlands.”
On 11 May 2021, Wiebes granted WEF funding of EUR 651,000 to establish and develop the GCS in the Netherlands. The first instalment of EUR 217,000 was paid around 22 June 2021. The Dutch government will pay equal second and third instalments in 2022 and 2023.
Page 8, is an informal translation of the Dutch government’s decision (page 7) regarding the request from the WEF for funding. You can read the full decision in the attachment below.
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