Case

‘A little provocation can also inspire’

by
Femke Vonk
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Marieke Wijnands is an Environmental and Sustainability Advisor at the waterschap Brabantse Delta [Brabantse Delta Water Authority]. In this blog she talks about her work at the Brabantse Delta Water Authority and how the Rideshare-app and the Cycles-app contribute to the sustainability and vitality objectives.

Living, working, and enjoying life safely around water

Water is an inseparable part of our living environment.  As the Brabantse Delta Water Authority, we contribute to a more beautiful and better living environment so that everyone can live, work, and enjoy life safely around water. We perform our Water Authority tasks at the lowest possible social cost, always taking sustainability into consideration. While we may have initially directed our attention to soil contamination, the reduction of CO2 emissions is now high on the agenda.

                                                                                       

Climate goals in practice

I started working at the Brabantse Delta Water Authority at the beginning of 2019. Before that I worked for Milieudefensie [Environmental Protection] for a number of years. Milieudefensie conducts public campaigns in order to achieve a climate-just society. Of course that’s quite wonderful, but I also wanted to know what that looks like in practice and whether those goals are seen as feasible. That’s why I ended up at the Brabantse Delta Water Authority. I think it’s important to contribute to our sustainability goals and to see how we can take steps in that direction. Naturally, we must also take into account national agreements and legislation. It is quite a job bringing all these issues to the attention of our 500 employees. Simply circulating a policy statement around the organisation doesn’t work. Fortunately, we have a strong communications department that’s quite adept at making such an unwieldy subject more tangible for our employees. We do this mainly by making it very concrete with simple examples.

Car-free Tuesday: not popular, but nevertheless inspiring

If you examine the CO2 emissions that result from our mobility, you can see that they’re made up of roughly two parts: on the one-hand emissions from our work activities, and on the other hand, emissions from commuting. The commuting part has always been somewhat out of the limelight, and I thought it important to devote more attention to it. That’s why I organised a car-free Tuesday in June 2019. On that day, no one was allowed to come to work by car. A traffic warden stood in the parking lot and if anyone came by car, they were not allowed into the parking lot. This initiative didn’t go down very well, but after that, sustainable transport was suddenly on people’s minds. Apparently, a little provocation can be inspiring ...


Ready for the start ...

We launched the Rideshare-app at the start of this year. Sharing a car not only reduces the amount of CO2 emissions, but we also found the social aspect was important. Anyhow, everything was underway in March, and the promotion team had rolled up its sleeves to get started when, suddenly, we had to work from home. During the Corona crisis we did start using the Cycles-app. The main idea here is to get people off the computer. Looking at myself, I can see that this isn’t nonsense. Before we ended up working from home en masse, I always cycled to work. Those daily trips were suddenly curtailed, and if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself glued to the computer all day, even though it’s so important to keep moving. We quickly devised a cycling challenge: the idea was to cycle a combined 16,000 kilometres in 3 weeks. We didn’t reach that goal, but those who participated were very enthusiastic, and that’s actually much more important. A week before the end of the challenge, I sent out a message mentioning the top 3 cyclists. Various colleagues then started to cycle like mad in an attempt to score a first place finish.

A nudge in the right direction

I hope more people will take their bicycles once we’re allowed back in the office. Not only for private trips, but also for commuting. We have colleagues who live only 5 to 10 kilometres from our organisation, yet they still take the car. We would very much like to have them leave the car at home and hop onto a bike. By converting cycled kilometres to loyalty points, which can be used in a webshop, I hope to have nudged people in the right direction. While the focus of the Rideshare-app was on sustainability, that of the Cycles-apps is on vitality.

Hybrid working

The expectation is that once people can return to work normally, they will do so partly at the premises and partly at home. We have come up with all kinds of home working arrangements and ways to simplify hybrid meetings. The office will serve more as a place for ‘live’ meetings and for socialising with colleagues. Personally, I miss the office and my colleagues very much. Nevertheless, I don’t see myself returning to the office 5 days a week. But the days that I do go to the office, I will do so by bicycle. Hopefully, many colleagues will join me.

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