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Niels Debonne is an assistant professor in the Environmental Geography department at the Institute for Environmental Studies. His current research is focused on pathways of sustainable intensification of European agriculture. In the coming decades, Europe will be transformed by demographic, technological, climatic and societal megatrends. Niels aims to map and project these trends, and gauge how they enable or disable specific pathways of sustainable intensification. This research is part of the SIPATH project.

Niels has obtained his PhD degree from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in which he took stock of new actors and new scales in agriculture. He used a range of methodologies, including land system modeling, empirical field work, and meta-analysis. He collaborated with the UNCCD Science-Policy Interface to include dynamics of land tenure and value chain developments in the fight against land degradation.

Originally from Belgium, Niels obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degree at the KU Leuven (Belgium). His master’s thesis took him to the Southwestern Ethiopian forest frontier, where he collected data on rural-to-rural migration, indigenous land management, and the implications for the maintenance of forest ecosystem. He developed a spatial agent-based model to with the obtained data.

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Academic qualification

Environmental Geography, PhD, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

15 Jan 20165 Feb 2021

Award Date: 5 Feb 2021

Geography, Master, KU Leuven

1 Sep 201315 Sep 2015

Award Date: 15 Sep 2015

Geography, Bachelor, KU Leuven

1 Sep 20104 Jul 2013

Award Date: 4 Jul 2013


  • G Geography (General)
  • S Agriculture (General)


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