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100 million for climate transition, VU researches 'hopeful cooperation'

27 February 2023
The National Growth Fund is allocating 100 million euros to the project 'Future-proof Living Environment: Transition to Emission-Free, Circular and Climate-Proof Building and Infrastructure'. The Faculty of Religion and Theology of VU Amsterdam, together with the University of Twente, provides underlying research into cultural change and new forms of cooperation in climate transition based on hope.

The project proposal to the Growth Fund was submitted by a consortium of 130 parties from government, market and science, like AMS Institute, province Noord-Holland, the municipality of Amsterdam, TU Delft, TKI Bouw and Techniek and Bestuurdersnetwerk Infra. They are convinced that the transition to a future-proof living environment requires a good synergy of technical and social innovations.

Hope as an alternative to pessimism

"Metropolitan regions such as Amsterdam face a huge challenge," says Jan Jorrit Hasselaar, director of the Amsterdam Centre for Religion & Sustainable Development (ACRSD), part of the Faculty of Religion and Theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. "Maintaining bridges, quay walls and roads, for example, is already a huge task, but making  them climate adaptive is an even bigger challenge."

Pessimism, polarization and paralysis lurk, according to Hasselaar. "Business as usual is not enough. That is why we investigate from theology, psychology and economics the question of whether and how the good life can support and deepen cultural change and cooperation in the infrastructure sector on the basis of hope. Hope emerges in various (religious) wisdom traditions as an alternative to pessimism to relate to radical uncertainty."

Shared inspiration and trust

In the proposal, VU Amsterdam (led by initiator Dr Jan Jorrit Hasselaar and Dr Johan Roeland) and the University of Twente (led by Prof. Ernst Bohlmeijer and  Dr Hanneke Scholten) are working together on this line of hope in an interdisciplinary research programme between the two universities.

Bohlmeijer: "Transitions aimed at sustainability only succeed if the parties involved with different interests find each other in a shared inspiration and trust. We want to contribute to this with new instruments in which hope, empathy, meaning, imagination and creative design are central."

Photo: Jos van Zetten (CC BY 2.0)