Student - December 3, 2009

Footing the sustainability bill

Students of the Wageningen Environmental Platform (WEP) help to draw up sustainability plans for the university. They are cautiously optimistic.

Dissatisfied they once were, the students of the WEP. With slogans such as Practice what you teach and I wish we WUR green, they had protested for years to have more sustainability within the university. Besides its green image, the university in fact has hardly any green electricity, environment-friendly paper or fair-trade coffee on its grounds.
But for the first time, the WEP is cautiously optimistic. With plans presented by sustainability task forces last week, the university finally looks set on a sustainable future. So goes the thinking of those at the WEP now. That was why members of the task forces each got a token of encouragement: a fair-trade rose and an organic pie, presented to them by three polar bears. Students of the WEP also received the sustainable gifts, because the WEP itself has helped with the plans.
'We saw a big gap between what was taught to us and how the university handled sustainability', says Environmental Policy student Femke Batterink of the WEP. 'We too have many provocative ideas about sustainability, partly because of our studies. The task forces had especially asked for these.  Energy saving, for example, needs a systematic and thorough approach. Examine the current usage first, and draw up savings measures afterwards. Things like that can now be found in the proposals and we are very pleased.'
The plans will of course never be far or fast enough for the WEP students. 'We would love to see only organic products in the canteens next week, of course. But that's not how things work. A pity. A student really needs to have patience to accept this. However, someone said to me recently that it's all going unusually fast for the mammoth tanker Wageningen UR.'
In February or March 2010, the Executive Board will receive the plans for approval. It will then be clear if someone will foot the bill. Some sustainability plans can bring in money, such as energy saving, while other proposals cost money. Femke is adopting a wait and see attitude. 'I am curious how much a sustainable university is worth to the executive board. It would have to put the money where its mouth is.' 
See also: Green employee works from home

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