“From now on we are operating on an ecological debt”


On Sunday 14 April, the organisation Extinction Rebellion together with Students for Climate Maastricht gathered on the Sint Servaasbrug to raise awareness about the Dutch Overshoot Day. From 11h00 to 14h00, these students covered the bridge with flowers and campaigned to stand up for stricter environmental measures. 

Overshoot Day – also known as Ecological Debt Day– is the day when a country’s Ecological Footprint has exceeded its biocapacity. In other words, Overshoot Day marks the date when the nation’s demand for ecological resources in a given year exceeds what the nation’s ecosystems can regenerate in that year. According to the National Footprint Network, the Netherlands reached its Overshoot Day on April 14th. “From now on we are operating on an ecological debt”, one of the organisers explains. “And it’s only April… it has taken us four months to exploit the resources we should be using in a year”.

Students handed bulbs to pedestrians. Their idea is simple: to get everyone passing by the bridge to plant a flower around the city. A symbolic gesture to show that the city of Maastricht is committed to regenerate the Earth. Belén Gavin, a third-year Law student, holds a flower in her hand. She is not part of the organization but she saw the event on Facebook and decided to join. “I think it is important that new generations show how much we care about climate change. We are the future, after all. We need to make sure governments know that we demand a change. We need to protest, take the streets… If not us, who will?”

The members of Extinction Rebellion are clear; something must be done. Several steps can be taken to ensure a sustainable future, they say. For instance: travelling with an eco-sensibility, reducing the intake of animal-based products and using alternative means of transportation such as bikes or carpooling. By challenging the city leaders, the students in Maastricht aim to urge the Dutch government to enact environmental policies and commit with a more sustainable demand for ecological resources.

Cristina Lopez-Perea

“From now on we are operating on an ecological debt”
Overshoot Day in Maastricht.JPG