Climate clocks counting down like a time bomb. Scientists warning of a sixth mass extinction. And UN Secretary-General Guterres, who describes “making peace with nature” as the greatest challenge of this century. The message is unanimous: it’s two minutes to midnight. We must become more sustainable now to combat global warming, environmental pollution, climate change and its drastic consequences. There’s a whole world to win. For current and future generations.
How can we bring people, the environment and the economy back into a healthy balance? This question is central to the education and research under VU Amsterdam’s Science for Sustainability profile theme. It’s also reflected in our pursuit of the sustainability of the VU organisation itself. The ambition: an ecologically healthy, socially just and economically viable world. Because climate change is not only about nature and the environment, but also about how we deal with it as individuals and society.
The way in which we set up and manage economies and organisations, as a society. How we produce and consume energy, food and water, and how we earn a living. To what extent we protect land, plants, animals, forests and marine life. And how we divide the benefits and burdens among the various commercial parties and the population. Both nearby and far away.
As a broad-reaching university with a strong social focus, we study and tackle sustainability issues in an integrated and interdisciplinary manner. From technical, exact, medical, social and behavioural scientists to economists, theologians and lawyers: every VU faculty is involved in this profile theme to a greater or lesser extent. In addition, we work closely with civil-society partners, governments and companies at local, national and international levels. This leads to valuable insights and sustainable initiatives with impact.
Sustainable development initiatives with impact
VU scientists and students are studying how we can better predict the weather in the long term using artificial intelligence, for example, so that governments and partners around the world can anticipate droughts, floods and cyclones in a timely manner. How we can make the food chain more sustainable and reduce food waste through better regulation and transparency. How we can make better use of available land, and how we can combat harmful deforestation and palm oil extraction. How we can store carbon from heavy industry differently, thereby reducing CO2 emissions. And how we can enrich biodiversity and prevent flooding in urban areas with blue-green roofs.
Or how we can work in co-creation with people in low-income settlements in Africa, Asia and Latin America on sustainable solutions that promote self-sufficiency and respond to local circumstances, traditions and needs. Or how we can limit the consequences of climate change, such as hunger and migration, for those people. And how mangrove swamps reduce the impact of flooding in Vietnam, improve fish stocks and strengthen women’s resilience.
Fair and sustainable world
Because it’s precisely the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society who are the first to experience the consequences of environmental pollution and climate change. And at the same time, we’re increasingly experiencing more and more dramatic consequences in the Western world, too. That’s why we’re working together towards a fair and sustainable world. For today, for tomorrow and for the long term. Join us!