Delft, The Netherlands, 24 Nov 2014

Quality assessment of environmental and sustainability sciences in the Netherlands successful

Environmental and sustainability research in the Netherlands is internationally considered to be of very high quality. UNESCO-IHE was one of the twelve Dutch Institutes assessed by the SENSE peer review committee. The independent ‘peer reviewers’ have concluded that the environmental and sustainability research in the Netherlands has a very high international impact.

Effective research

This is the first time that UNESCO-IHE has been part of the SENSE consortium research review. The Institute underwent a separate internal review in 2009 by the SENSE leadership and has since made several adjustments recommended in the previous review. The Committee was satisfied with the changes that were made to improve academic leadership.

The Evaluation Committee considered the research accomplishments of UNESCO-IHE, especially as they relate to developing countries, as highly effective. The strategy to operate under the UNESCO flag is applauded and considered very effective in terms of achieving worldwide impact.

In order to continue this status, the committee recommended maintaining the status of being part of UNESCO as this helps the mission of UNESCO-IHE in connecting with their peers in the UNESCO and wider UN system. The recognition of students' degrees in their home countries is greatly facilitated by the UNESCO label.

Secondly, the Committee advised to reconsider the structure of research groups as some are considered too small (below critical mass). This enables the research to exploit all synergies that can be generated through collaboration between research groups.

Thirdly, it was advised to associate more strongly with universities worldwide in order to cope better with the demands of the developing countries in the water science domain for the future.

Download the assessment report here.


The Netherlands Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE) was established in 1994, and formally accredited by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in 1997 for the 5-year period 1997-2001. This accreditation has been renewed in 2002 and, most recently, in 2008 (for 2008-2013).

Today, twelve leading institutes at nine universities, as well as UNESCO-IHE and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, participate in SENSE, making it one of the largest research schools in the country. Read more about SENSE.


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