Marielle Dubbeling

In Memoriam: Marielle Dubbeling (1968–2019)

On 23rd of October 2019, Marielle Dubbeling passed away peacefully at her home in France, following a long battle with cancer. Her husband, Guido, was at her side.

She is remembered by many people, all over the world, as a unique individual; a spiritual person of integrity and uncompromising values; an influential thinker; a supportive and stimulating colleague and tutor; a steadfast leader; and, above all, a friend.

Marielle’s passing leaves a great void. We have opened an online book of condolences, where we invite colleagues and friends to share their tributes, emotions and memories.

Marielle was a leading expert in urban agriculture and city region food systems, who had significant and long lasting impacts on urban policies, as well as on research and education in this field of work.

Marielle was co-founder of the RUAF Foundation, of which she was the Director since 2012, and a driving force of the RUAF Global Partnership. She will continue  to inspire the many people that have been involved in studies and projects in which she took part.

Marielle graduated ‘cum laude’ from Wageningen University in 1994 with an M.Sc. Tropical Crop Science and Ecological Agriculture, for which she carried out fieldwork in Cameroon.

Her interest in agro-ecology further developed when she joint the Institute for Low-External Input Agriculture (ILEIA) at ETC in the Netherlands in 1996, where she also participated part-time in the ETC Urban Agriculture programme.

From 1999-2004 she worked as Regional Urban Agriculture and Environmental Management Coordinator for the UN-HABITAT Urban Management Programme in Latin America (UMP-LAC), based in Quito, Ecuador.

In 2004 she joined the staff of RUAF (Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security) which was founded in late 1999. She was one of the driving forces in the further development of RUAF and led many of its international programmes, studies and projects. In 2012 she became the Director of the RUAF Foundation. Over the last 18 months she led the transition of the RUAF Foundation into a network named the ‘RUAF Global Partnership on Urban Agriculture and Food Systems’, with its Secretariat hosted at the Netherlands-based Humanist Organization for Social Change (Hivos).

Throughout her career, Marielle was always developing new insights and approaches through innovative research and development projects. She worked on many themes, as reflected in the large number of publications, including:

  • Participatory multi-stakeholder policy development and action planning on urban agriculture. Marielle started to develop this approach when working at the UMP programme in Latin America,  and developed it further in the RUAF programmes ‘Cities Farming For the Future‘ and ‘From Seed to Table‘, in 17 cities in the South.
  • Urban Agriculture as a tool for urban climate change management. She initiated projects with UNDP and CDKN (UK) to put the concept into practice, assess potential impacts and develop guidelines and indicators.
  • City region food systems approach. Mainly in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Marielle worked on the operationalisation of this approach, including a planning toolkit and monitoring indicators.

She was also co-founder and technical advisor to the ICLEI-RUAF CITYFOOD network.

Her intellect shined through the many  knowledge syntheses and training materials that she developed, with (amongst others) with Ryerson University and under commission from various international bi- and multilateral agencies, as well as governments at all levels.

Marielle leaves us on the 20th anniversary of RUAF, and following the recent transition of RUAF into a network named the ‘RUAF Global Partnership on Urban Agriculture and Food Systems’. The RUAF Partnership met in Montpellier only two weeks ago. The partners expressed the unanimous commitment to build on Marielle’s legacy in urban agriculture and food systems, in her memory and honour, and with all around the world who were inspired by her.

The next issue of Urban Agriculture Magazine, celebrating 20 years of RUAF and the launch of the new RUAF website, will be dedicated to Marielle. We will invite those who have worked with Marielle over the past 20-25 years to contribute.

Marielle always said “distance is not an issue, wherever you are in the world, when your thoughts are with someone that is what’s important”. Many former friends and colleagues shared in a worldwide farewell to Marielle on Tuesday 29th October, 2019. Marielle loved trees, especially old trees, so for those who wish to continue to remember her, maybe find (or plant) a tree or a beautiful outdoor space.

Please do not hesitate to share this message widely.

The RUAF Secretariat, the RUAF Foundation Board, the RUAF Global Partnership.