“There are loads of opportunities to step up sustainability in Zuidas”

This year, Victor Nieuwenhuizen of VU Amsterdam’s Green Office will be joining the judging panel of the Zuidas Sustainability Award for the first time. Here, we introduce him to you.

Can you tell us something about yourself?
“My name is Victor, I am 24 years old and doing an MA in Curating Art and Cultures at VU and UvA. As well as working at the Green Office, I am also trying to focus in on sustainability, social justice and other current hot issues in my studies.”

What does the Green Office VU do?
“The Green Office is a student platform for sustainability at VU Amsterdam. The team is made up of all students and works on behalf of VU’s student body. Right now we are focused on getting more involved in decisions taken within the university, such as the renovation of the campus square and procurement of a new catering company. These are processes where we can raise sustainability issues and make them project requirements. Apart from that, we also set up student activities like talks, workshops and so on, as a way to inform students and give them practical tools to be more sustainable themselves and create greater awareness.”


What is your job at Green Office VU and what does it involve?
“I am the media and communication officer this year. That means I work on social media, promoting events and getting information out. Besides, we also work on projects. For example, we set up a week of activities around sustainable food and have another devoted to the circular economy coming up.”

How do you feel about being one of the judges for the Zuidas Sustainability Award? “I am curious to see what kinds of sustainability initiatives will be submitted this year. Being in the midst of a climate crisis, I think it’s very important to be critical. I also think that the conversation about sustainability in Zuidas can be a tough one. It feels amazing for me to be involved here as a member of the judging panel for the Zuidas Sustainability Award and I am grateful for the invitation!”

What is your take on sustainability in Zuidas?
“On the one hand, I think the fact that Zuidas is talking about sustainability is great and that there are loads of opportunities here to step up sustainability all the way. On the other hand, I think sustainability is a tricky issue for Zuidas. One aspect that’s important to stress is the sense of responsibility. There are big companies here that have tremendous influence, because of the huge sums of money going around. These kinds of transactions also have to take account of nature, people and the climate and critically weigh the impacts of certain areas of financing.”

In terms of sustainability, what is Zuidas doing well and what could be improved? “Sustainability projects in Zuidas are great, obviously, in terms of making Zuidas more sustainable as an actual location. Development and renovation projects are all paying more attention to sustainable implementations now. The green roofs, for instance, are a step in the right direction! Biodiversity and water management are also getting more priority, which is good to see. I am happy to see the sustainable initiatives being set up and alternatives being implemented, but as long as the big bucks continue to go to projects and companies that harm people and nature, we can’t fully celebrate these alternatives.”

What is a sustainable project or initiative in Zuidas that you admire?
“I really like the dry cleaner Fornet’s idea to get people to be more sustainable with their clothes and make the textile sector circular. They provide people with a sustainable service for their clothing and work with garments that people already have in their closets. I think it’s important to make better use of what we already have and to promote circularity instead of putting new and more products on the market, and that’s what I admire about Fornet Textile Care.”