Science for Sustainability

The destruction of the climate and of nature is the greatest challenge facing humanity. However, our ecosystem is so complex that it is unclear at what point the damage will become irreversible. The VU Amsterdam Science for Sustainability theme brings together all the disciplines that could help to secure the welfare of our planet and save its inhabitants. From biology to economics. From social sciences to natural sciences. Only by combining all these disciplines can we find answers to the biggest questions of our time. VU Amsterdam is also striving to maintain its position among the top 10 most sustainable universities worldwide. Sustainability vision VU 2015-2020 (PDF in Dutch)

Lecturers, researchers and students involved in the VU Amsterdam Science for Sustainability theme are looking for integrated solutions to the sustainability issues of our time. Their aim is to distribute more fairly and use more sustainably our natural resources - water, food, energy and fertile land. They do so in study programmes in which the issue of sustainability is dealt with from a geographical, biological, physical, chemical, socio-economic, social, political, and legal perspective.

The Science for Sustainability theme entails the linking of fundamental scientific knowledge with knowledge on how to implement changes in society. We are researching aspects of climate change, energy generation, our approach to water and ever-scarcer sources of energy and how to exploit them in a responsible manner. At the same time, we are increasing our understanding of how we can achieve the necessary changes in human and social behaviour that contribute to (the formation of) a sustainable society.

Research institutes that are involved with the Science for Sustainability profile theme:

AGCIAmsterdam Global Change Institute
AIMMSAmsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems
IVMInstitute for Environmental Studies

Researchers who are involved with the Science for Sustainability profile theme:

Pieter van Beukering
Jacintha Ellers

Sjoerd Kluiving
Heather Leslie
Gerard van der Meijden
Philipp Pattberg

In the near future, the VU campus will evolve into a sustainable area offering a pleasant environment in which to study, work, relax and live. Plans for the development of the campus are systematically assessed in accordance with BREEAM Area Development. The aim is to have an integrated assessment of the entire Knowledge District/Zuidas and ‘Excellent’ BREEAM Area Development certification of the masterplan for the future VU campus.

Green Office VU 
Green Office VU, which was established in 2014, is VU Amsterdam’s sustainability platform for students and university staff, run by students. It is concerned with sustainability projects within four portfolios (campus, community, teaching and research), and organizes events, campaigns, lectures and information days. These community services help link VU Amsterdam with society, with academic knowledge flowing back into society. 

Green Business Club Zuidas  
The Green Business Club Zuidas is where local businesses, local authorities and social organizations meet in order to initiate and carry out sustainable and social projects in Zuidas. VU Amsterdam is an active participant in the GBC, which has been based in the VU Amsterdam Main Building since 2017.

VU Amsterdam has been taking part in the SustainaBul for several years - this is a ranking of Dutch universities and higher education institutes in relation to sustainability. The SustainaBul is a ‘Studenten voor Morgen’ initiative. Education institutes are assessed by students on how well they have integrated sustainability into their teaching, research and operations. In 2017, VU Amsterdam achieved fourth place (a golden degree certificate), with the awarding of the SustainaBul taking place at the university during the ‘Nationale Dag voor Duurzaamheid in het Hoger Onderwijs’ (NDDHO17).

Photo report


The academic year 2017-2018 is dedicated to Science for Sustainability.