'We’ll have an impact that far outreaches this campus'

‘Let’s join forces in making this university as sustainable as possible. I believe that by doing so, we’ll have an impact that far outreaches this campus.’ With this statement, member of the Executive Board Roelien Ritsema van Eck opened the Erasmus Sustainability Days 2019. Theme of this year’s Sustainability Days is ‘breaking the barriers’.

Roelien Ritsema van Eck, appointed as per 1 November last year, addressed the students and staff gathered for the opening. “One of the reasons I chose to work for the Erasmus University is that this institution really cares about being sustainable. For me personally sustainability is a far reaching concept. It means doing good for society and for generations to come.” In order to reduce her own footprint, her family has decided to stop eating meat.

Pillar

In her short speech, Ritsema van Eck pointed out the role sustainability plays at Erasmus University. It’s an important pillar in the strategic framework: stepping up our sustainability efforts is one of the 7 priorities, added to this framework thanks to students. “And being sustainable also fits in perfectly with our new mission: creating a positive societal impact.”

Erasmus University has the ambition to become the most sustainable university in the Netherlands in 2024. “Reaching that goal is not gonna be easy, but I know this university doesn’t shy away from a challenge.” According to Ritsema van Eck, this goal will be achieved by making sustainability an important aspect in our daily operations, by paying attention to sustainable produced food and by energy savings, smarter waste management and reducing the carbon footprint.

New sports building

One of the examples she presented was the new, energy neutral sports building. This new building will be fitted with solar panels, and circular materials will be used in the construction. Also, Erasmus University will be putting solar panels on three roofs. Stepping up the sustainability efforts also means improving the access to the scientific knowledge Erasmus University has in this area. “After all, we’re a university, full of data and insights. With our knowledge, we can have an impact. In the south of Rotterdam for example, our scientists work on improving the sustainability of that area.”

Future generations

She also called on students to help reach the  goal of becoming the most sustainable university in the Netherlands. “I’m glad an increasing number of students and staff realizes that a sustainable way of living – both here, at home and worldwide – is essential. Not just for us, but also for future generations (..) The theme of this year’s Erasmus Sustainability Days is ‘breaking the barriers’. For me this means connecting. Connecting disciplines, ideas and generations. Let’s join forces in making this university as sustainable as possible. I believe that by doing so, we’ll have an impact that far outreaches this campus.”

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