EUR is committed to sustainability: in education, research and operations

Alexander Santos Lima

Erasmus University Rotterdam has embraced the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. In education and research, but - practice what you preach! - The campus itself is also becoming more sustainable. Maarten Sauter and his team from the Events & Experience department (service Marketing & Communications) are contributing to this.

What does the Head of Events & Experience do?

"I am in charge of three sub-departments: the Office of the beadle, Corporate events and the Science Exchange. With Corporate events, we organise the Opening of the Academic Year and the Dies Natalis, but also open days and various other events. In the field of sustainability, we work together with the EUR sustainability team."

How do you make events more sustainable?

"In the broadest sense of the word. We asked the external agency PHI Factory to analyse our entire chain in order to make every step as green as possible. They calculated our CO2 footprint and gave us advice on how to reduce emissions in all facets. The outcome was remarkable: most CO2 emissions come from the energy it takes to stream large events, such as the Dies Natalis. After all, since corona made its appearance, events have been hybridised as much as possible. So even though fewer people came to the campus, there were relatively high emissions. We are going to work with this insight."

Maarten Sauter

What other elements do we need to think about?

"The catering, for example. Everything is vegan and from local producers. On the day of the event, we look at how many people we are expecting. We buy on this basis in order to have as little food as possible left over. But also the scenery and the furnishings of the location do not disappear into the waste bin after one use. Almost everything is reused, is circular. We encourage visitors not to come by car. In a positive way, so that they think: 'why not? A next step could be to impose conditions on our suppliers, such as the type of transport used to deliver their goods. In this way, we are going to work in an increasingly sustainable way."

The faculties also organise events.

"We can only make the big difference university-wide. That is why we are setting up a community of all event professionals. As the central department, we are happy to share our expertise here, but we can also learn from the initiatives that are taking place at the EUR in the field of sustainability."

Are CO2 emissions being compensated?

"The emission of the Dies Natalis was comparable to the CO2 absorbed by eighty trees in a year. The PHI Factory's advice was to compensate for this by planting trees on the campus. This is how we make our ambitions visible and keep them close by. But we are also looking at other ways of compensating for the emissions."

"All catering at EUR events is vegan and comes from local producers"

What are the reactions like?

"Actually, we get few reactions and I consider that a positive thing. Apparently, people hardly noticed that, for example, the bitterbal contained no meat. The Executive Board is pleased with the path we have chosen. It fits in well with the mission of Erasmus University. We continue to monitor our events and adjust our operational management accordingly. This is transparent and comprehensible to everyone. Of course, not everything can be perfect in one or two years. But we are working hard!''

More information

Maarten Sauter is head of the Events & Experience department (service Marketing & Communications) at Erasmus University Rotterdam since April 2021. Previously, he worked in a similar position at TU Delft. Maarten is committed to making university events more sustainable. Here you can read more about sustainability at the EUR in education, research and operations. In this article about sustainability Ellen van Schoten, member of the Executive Board, outlines the ambitions of the university.

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