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Stagnation in the implementation of sustainability plans

MAASTRICHT. Five definite plans came from ‘Green Impact’, a competition held last spring in which teams of students and employees could submit a project for a more sustainable Maastricht University. There was a ceremony where a winner was chosen at the beginning of July, and there was a lot of praise for the participating teams. Since then, the teams have heard hardly anything. “We are disappointed.”

After the ceremony in July, the participants spoke twice with Anja van Bogaert, co-ordinator of the UM’s sustainability team. “Not much came out of that,” says Jelle Kouwenhoven, employee at EDLAB and a member of the winning team. “’It is being discussed, worked on and talked about,’ they say. It goes no further than that.” Kouwenhoven’s team came up  with a system in which those who travel by aeroplane pay a kind of tax to a fund at the UM that will promote green travel. Kouwenhoven: “Now is a good time to introduce changes in the UM’s travel policies. We put a lot of time and energy into it. We think it would be a pity if nothing was done with the plans.”

On behalf of the five participating teams, Kouwenhoven sent a message to Observant. “We hope that this will generate some urgency. It would be nice if there was a timeline for the implementation of our ideas.” He understands that the UM has a lot to deal with because of the pandemic. “Some delay is not so strange, but more than four months of hardly any feedback, is very slow.”

The participants also felt that communication regarding the competition was poor. Or rather: the lack thereof. “Hardly any attention has been paid by the university to the results of the competition, just a short message on the UM’s website.” Why, for example, was it not included in the UM’s newsletter?

Co-ordinator Anja van Bogaert understands the frustration, but feels that the participants have complained a little too soon. “After the results in July, the summer holidays began. Then there was no UM newsletter. After that the sustainability team needed time to think with different departments about what needed to happen before the projects could get started. For example, there are a number of ongoing feasibility studies.” In addition, everything in the digital world takes a little longer than in real life, she says. The team is also suffering from a “capacity problem”. A few members have dropped out and she herself only works with the sustainability team two days a week. From this month, it will become five days. With that extra time, she wants to tackle things like the ‘communication problem’. “I’m in contact with UM’s marketing and communication department to bring the ideas of the competition under the attention of students and staff. “We will definitely be working with those plans."

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