Rotterdam was the last stop before they (temporarily) park their tandem bicycle in The Hague. Here they held a session with students on the Erasmus University campus. More than twenty young people showed up, far more than they expected. “This is so cool,” Clemens exclaims enthusiastically.
To handle the excited public, the two have to improvise: three workgroups become five and new subjects are added on the spot. “In a moment, we’ll discuss sustainable energy, housing, campus, economy and transportation,” Clemens, who is doing a master’s degree in Economics and has a bachelor’s degree in Law, informs the participants.
During their cycling trip through the country, Clemens and Visser have spoken to hundreds of young people at schools and youth centres. Visser explains: “We met them all, from first grades VMBO to university students, plus everything in between, and also in different environments. Each day we gave a one-hour session in five or six locations. ”
“We started with a presentation and let the youngsters take part. We always asked the same questions: given the fact that we all have to be sustainable, how do you see the future? What should we change?” Clemens adds. “During this sustainability discussion, we try to stay close to their reality.”
On Friday, they will deliver the result of these talks to Prime Minister Rutte. “Furthermore, we will also write a report with our findings and ideas and take them to the upcoming UN climate summit in Poland,” says Visser.
One step at a time
During the session on campus, the participants discuss how they can make their daily lives more sustainable. “I think you should start with yourself, one step at a time,” says one of the participants.
“Exactly,” Clemens responds. “For example, if you skip adding meat to your pasta just for one evening, it already has an incredible effect. But everything starts with awareness, so you should always consider whether your action leaves a footprint for the next generation.”
Visser ends the discussion with an objective: “Our dream is that the youth takes on a more leading role in the sustainability shift of the Netherlands and the world. That this sustainable world is the result of a team effort by young people, talents and senior experts.”
Last November, Emma Clemens was elected the UN youth representatives for sustainability. Over the next two years, she will be representating the Dutch youth at the United Nations in the field of sustainability.