We are very sad to let you know that our colleague and friend, Hugo Besemer, passed away suddenly at home in Randwijk, The Netherlands, on 10 July 2020.

Hugo has been at the heart of significant steps in information management for international development. Whilst he helped generations of researchers at Wageningen University & Research in their research and data management, his work internationally had an impact on thousands of information managers across the world.

Hugo supported a global community of UNESCO library software users through the CDS-ISIS discussion list and Fangorn (He always brought a mysticism to the software and services). He was the content force behind the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations training series, iMark, and played a key role in supporting the development of CIARD, an initiative that focussed on principles for Agricultural Information Management across the world. He helped design the Research for Development institutional repository for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and supported the UK government to publish open metadata on international development research.

A founding board member of the Knowledge Management for Development Journal, he was also an active member of the Information Management Working Group of the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) and of the IKM Emergent Research Programme.

He produced a number of papers in the agricultural information world, most recently for the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA). His work will continue to help information managers across the world through the course materials he has written in the e-learning and online courses for the FAO, Wageningen University & Research and CTA.

It was always a pleasure to collaborate with Hugo, and we always benefited from his insights, his critical mind and the excellent advice he gave. No-one could speak his mind in such an honest and yet gentle way like Hugo. We would have never missed an occasion to involve him in projects, discussions and collaborations, we knew that we would all learn from Hugo. 

A brilliant, delicate man who definitely leaves a legacy to our community of data and information practitioners, a lasting legacy and an indelible mark on all our lives. As colleagues, we will miss his supportive thoughtful approach, a mischievous smile and intelligent analysis. 

In his private life, Hugo was a nature lover and a poet.

Chris Addison, Sarah Cummings, Martin Parr, Imma Subirats, Joke Webbink, Ilkay Holt, Valeria Pesce, Mike Powell

If you would like to receive some of Hugo’s ‘Dichtkaarten’ (Poetry cards) as a rememberance, please get in touch with Sarah sarahcummingswork@gmail.com

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