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Gerben de Vries

City: Utrecht

Country: Netherlands

Impact Narrative

Gerben writes:

“As a recent graduate (MSc) in Innovation Science at Utrecht University (NL), I’ve spent a substantial part of the last couple year studying not just how new energy technologies can contribute to more sustainable systems of energy provision, but also more generally how a socio-economic transition towards a more durable and less pollutive society could be accelerated. However, diving into environmental ethics and development theories I’ve come to realize that these challenges are very much interconnected, and larger than isolated innovation systems; it’s not just a matter of implementing some technical fixes, it’s just as much about attitudes, public and political discourse and, more practically, about a globally inclusive organization of resources such that we don’t exceed the natural boundaries of what Earth can offer. Ultimately, this all starts with a more thorough awareness of the limits and fragility of our planet. Coupled with a sense of urgency and personal responsibility, this may just lead to an adoption of a more considerate ethics in which there is room to address population issues in time.

These are just some thoughts of mine on this topic, as I stumbled across this initiative. Just this week, I got a job at a Dutch NGO, a so-called nature and environment federation active in one of our provinces. It will be my task to facilitate and encourage the province’s transition to sustainable energy. However, I think that the energy challenge can and should not be artificially separated from the expansion of human dominance over and demands of nature. After all, we all have ecological footprints that reach far beyond the energy patterns of our households, and affect people (and nature) all over the world.
In my new position, I will get the chance to interact with many different actors, either political or in business – and thus hopefully inspire them to broaden their scope to realize that it’s not just the Netherlands we should take care of. This book, Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot may just be a strong device to stimulate those people with the leverage to make a real difference, to start actually doing so.”

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