Online event Engaged Sustainability

How to incorporate people’s ideas and energy, but also their concerns and doubts while working on sustainability
News an updates

More and more people are realising that sustainability is not a ‘mere’ technical operation that will ‘get worked out’ somewhere in the background. Rather, it is a transition that is having a profound impact on how our society is organised and on what we consider to be ‘normal’. It also has a considerable impact on the living environment of all citizens.

Major changes usually meet with resistance, as we can see in the public debate concerning sustainability. Some believe that we cannot change quickly enough, whereas others wonder why change is needed at all and whether they too will have a say in how, and how quickly, it comes about.

However, sustainability can only succeed if every member of society contributes. After the P for Planet, which had experts and policymakers seeking solutions, and the P for Profit, which involved the business community and the economic viability of the energy transition, the focus of attention since concluding the Netherlands’ National Climate Agreement has been on the P for People. Without broad political support, public funding will be inadequate, and without broad public support, private initiatives will fall short.

The Engaged Sustainability event, initiated by the Rli, has shown that many parties working on sustainability are actively seeking ways to incorporate people's ideas and energy, but also their concerns and doubts, into their work.

Engaged Sustainability Week

To share their insights and the experiences of many parties, the Rli organised the ‘Engaged Sustainability Week’ in May 2020. Because of the Covid-situation, the Engaged Sustainability Week was an online event. During the Week several experts shared their views and the participants shared their experiences.
Engaged Sustainability Week has taught us that conversations are most valuable when they take the form of a dialogue with people outside our everyday personal and professional circles. It is precisely by seeing things from someone else’s viewpoint - sometimes literally - that you arrive at a shared understanding and, from there, reach joint and workable solutions. For more information see: Engaged sustainability: Five issues to consider


Results of the Engaged Sustainability Week

As a wrap up of the Engaged Sustainability Week six statements were formed:

  • Seek for viewpoints, not opinions
  • Be aware of the ‘meek ones’ in the middle
  • Be sure to seek harmony with all citizens
  • Debate requires emotion
  • Sometimes you need to slow down to accelerate
  • Be less preoccupied with ‘the plan’ and more open to others

For more information on the six statements see this article.

The European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils Network (EEAC Network)

The Annual Conference 2020 of the EEAC last october was called ‘Delivering a Just Transition for All’. The Rli hosted a Spotlight session called: ‘State-citizen Interplay for Achieving a Just Transition: Lessons from the Netherlands’. During this session there are contributions of:

  • Annemieke Nijhof, on behalf of Dutch Council for the Environment and Infrastructure
  • Ayolt de Groot/Menno Ottens, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
  • Tamara Metze, Wageningen University and Research
  • Eva van Genuchten, Youth Climate Movement

The conference sessions are all available on the NESC website

For more information on the EEAC Spotlight Session click here

For more information on the Rli event please contact dr Luc Boot (