VU installs 'Fossil-Free Research' committee

Are we walking the talk?

The ’Fossil-Free Research’ committee was officially installed Thursday, April 11, at Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam. The committee will review new research collaborations with the fossil fuel sector within VU Amsterdam. "With this we want to send a clear signal to the industry, but more importantly, we also want to show: we are walking the talk," said member of the Executive Board Marcel Nollen.

In April 2023, VU Amsterdam announced it was the first university in the Netherlands and second worldwide not to enter into new research collaborations with fossil fuel companies. Future collaborations would only be possible if parties are demonstrably committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and the level of decarbonization set therein that is needed to limit temperature rise to no more than 2C and ideally to 1.5C.

’Fossil-Free Research’ Framework.

Over the past year, VU Amsterdam took the lead in a series of dialogues with other academic institutions, activist groups and also the industry itself. All the insights, dilemmas and possible solutions from the series of discussions eventually led to the new framework ’Fossil-Free Research’, and a committee that will test new research collaborations with the industry.

Signing

During the final session on April 11, the framework was signed by VU Amsterdam’s Executive Board, and the seven-member committee was appointed to oversee implementation. Professor of Environmental Economics Marjan Hofkes is appointed chair. The role of vice chair is filled by Professor of Planetary Evolution Wim van Westrenen. The other members Brigitte de Graaff, Paul van Lange, Anne Loeber, David Rossati and Neele van der Bongardt also have a high affinity with climate research.

UNSDSN

In addition to the "Fossil-Free Research" committee and framework, VU Amsterdam has also joined the United Nation Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN). The UNSDSN is a nonprofit organization established by the United Nations in 2012 to promote the 17 Sustainable Development Goals on a national and international level. VU Amsterdam, as a UNSDSN member, will play a leadership role in the Netherlands.

As a university, VU Amsterdam aims to contribute to a sustainable future through high-quality research and education. Several initiatives have been developed at the VU dedicated to this objective, such as the Sustainability Office , the Green Office and the Climate Change and Sustainability Law Clinic.