By the year of 2022, our association will be 10 years old! We’d like to take this moment to look back on how SFSA has come about, what we have done in the past years and what we are aiming to do in the future. To many more years of fun, informative events and inspiring collaborations!
The story of SFSA starts back in 2008, when a member of UvA’s student council, Gijs van der Poel, heard about a crazy story; some econometrics student was trying to build an energy neutral study room. Not a very big deal, you might think – but we are talking 14 years ago, solar panels we’re just adopted as a crucial source of green energy.
Gijs’ interest was sparked, and reached out to this crazy econometrics student, Ewoud de Kok. Together they built a hall filled with a couple of hundred computers, running from the early mornings until nighttime. This would of course overheat the room, so it required external cooling of the study room 365 days a year. To minimize the energy-use as much as possible, the two took all precautions possible, while also looking for new solutions. From installing sleep-mode on the computers to replacing the lighting – the reduction was enormous. With the savings on energy costs and the help of the UvA, solar panels were installed on the roof, and the CO2 neutral study room was born!
With the realization of this room, more and more interest in sustainability arose within student circles. Together with fellow student council member Just Dengerink, who had also been involved in the study room project, Gijs founded a new committee: Commissie Duurzaamheid or Sustainable Committee in English, which would be a part of the UvA.
As these were the early years of sustainability, the sector was a lot younger and less saturated. This meant that the committee received a lot of money and support from the UvA to experiment with the craziest and coolest ideas. The GreenDocs were introduced, conferences were organized, more and more companies started taking sustainability into their activities and universities across the country took the lessons from the energy-neutral study room and implemented them at their own campuses. To become even more effective in challenging the status quo, the Commissie Duurzaamheid often teamed up with the sustainability committee of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences), called Next Generation.
After four years of working together, the boards decided to turn the committees into an official student association, deciding to open up to international students by taking the name ‘Students For Sustainability Amsterdam’.
Since then, a lot has changed. Most internal affairs concerning sustainability within the UvA and HvA are nowadays handled by the Green Offices, deriving from SFSA. This has given SFSA the opportunity to focus even more on external promotions of sustainability, educating students by organizing events and offering them the opportunity to realize their sustainablility-related ideas. Being an independent association, we are also able to include students from any institution, no matter the location or level of education.
These development over the years have led SFSA to the mission and vision we handle nowadays. SFSA tries to be an open platform for students from different backgrounds and different disciplines to get involved into the sustainable movement. We hope to invoke and invite students to become active members of society, calling out for the consideration of sustainability.
Through our committees, students can set up events about subjects that interest them, and which they think would interest other students. Events like practical workshops about repairing and upcycling old clothing, about vegan cooking, or seminars about sustainable developments in the fashion industry, or documentary evenings about the persisting struggle for drinking water in an ever-warmer world.
In this way, we aim to further spread the word about sustainability. Not only in forms of activism, but also in forms of sensibility and professionalism. We are joined by students from different educational institutes, different professional orientations but united for a common goal. At our association we find like-minded students, optimistic, dedicated, chill yet assertive. We hope to stay open to all and are always eager for input.
In the coming years we aim to become an overarching platform through which we can connect different sustainable initiatives in the region. We hope to encourage collaborations between these different initiatives, thereby uniting forces and gaining momentum. As an association we hope to eventually represent all sustainable students within Amsterdam and hope to offer them a community where they feel at home, and through which they can get in contact with our partners and associates in the sustainability sector. We hope to encourage them to become environmentally active, be it with us or with one of the other amazing sustainable organizations in Amsterdam.