On Friday 22 January 2021, the University of Groningen (UG) will award an honorary doctorate to Feike Sijbesma. The former CEO of DSM will be presented with his honorary doctorate by Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga during the special Nobel Prizewinners’ Ceremony as part of the Climate Adaptation Week Groningen (held between 19 and 25 January). The honorary supervisor of Sijbesma is Prof. Peter Verhoef, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business.
Sijbesma is being awarded the UG honorary doctorate as a result of his significant societal engagement as one of the ‘captains of industry’ in the Netherlands.
President of the Board of the University, Jouke de Vries: ‘His thorough efforts regarding climate issues and sustainability in particular make him a valuable honorary doctor. He has played an important role in sustainability processes within DSM and he has used his voice to stress the importance of societal engagement of multinationals. He has also worked hard on this in an international context. Between March and September 2020, he acted as special ‘corona envoy’ on behalf of the Cabinet. We want to reward these efforts with the highest distinction that can be granted from the academic world.’
Cisca Wijmenga adds: ‘Tackling the climate crisis and sustainability are both important topics with which we want to distinguish ourselves and in which we want to play a leading role. This can be seen in two of our new strategic spearheads: ‘Energy Transition and Climate Change’ and ‘Sustainable Society’. UG researchers have already been working on climate issues for years and, over the past few years, more attention has been paid to adjusting to changing circumstances. Our researchers are a driving force in the realization of the goals of the Global Center on Adaptation. I see the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Feike Sijbesma during the Climate Adaptation Week as the organic cherry on top of the sustainable cake.’
Together with Climate Adaptation Groningen and other knowledge institutions, the UG is organizing the ‘Open University on Climate Adaptation’ programme. Various celebratory events, both online and in-person, will come together in an academic programme held in the Martinikerk on Friday 22 January, as part of Climate Adaptation Week Groningen. In the morning, members of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be interviewed by Twan Huys and, in the afternoon, the Nobel Prizewinners’ Ceremony will take place: an academic ceremony attended both online and in-person by many Nobel Prizewinners across the globe. ‘The special guest is our honorary doctor of 2018, Dr.h.c. Ban Ki-moon’, states Jouke de Vries proudly.
An honorary doctorate (Latin: doctor honoris causa) is a doctorate granted to someone that has contributed exceptionally to academia without having obtained a PhD degree. The University of Groningen also awards honorary doctorates to people who have made an exceptional contribution to society or politics. Honorary doctorates are mainly awarded by the UG during its five-year anniversary (lustrum) celebrations. Of the 22 honorary doctorates awarded by the UG this century, this is only the third not to be awarded during a lustrum. UG honorary doctorates are symbolized by a traditional burgundy-coloured kappa (cape), to be worn by the honorary doctor.
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