We Are Running Out of Time:

How Amsterdam is Fighting The Climate Crisis

By Isabella Nijm | Metro City | December 18, 2021

Cover Illustration: Strike protest demonstration – No Planet B. Markus Spiske / Unsplash

Metro Reporter Isabella Nijm discusses a student-led organization called Students for Sustainability Amsterdam, which encourages sustainable practices with different projects and events. 


It is difficult to ignore reality: we are living in one of the biggest humanitarian crises of all time: the climate crisis. If you have not been confronted by it when reading the newspaper, you have probably talked about it in school or heard about it on the news. The climate crisis is real and proving to be a threat to our everyday lives.

The recent global COP26 conference in Glasgow, United Kingdom, saw the agreement of a compromising deal called The Glasgow Climate Pact. The deal requires 197 countries to “report their progress towards more climate ambition next year, at COP27, set to take place in Egypt.” Although many were disappointed with the deal, feeling that it was not enough, the negotiations between participating countries clarified what work needs to be done to address the climate crisis.

Participating countries, including the Netherlands, were called to take steps to promote action for more effective climate strategies. Each country in attendance at the conference was reminded to adhere to the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change.

As the biggest city in the Netherlands, Amsterdam must extend and employ innovative and effective initiatives for climate activism. Climate activism is already prominent in Amsterdam. The city is host to a diversity of organizations that aim to stand up to the climate challenges we face as a population by working towards a more sustainable world. One of these organizations is the Students for Sustainability Amsterdam (SFSA), a student-led organization which “aims to make the world a greener place through sustainability.” SFSA became an official organization in 2012, thanks to the merging of the University of Amsterdam and Hogeschool van Amsterdam sustainability committees and has since grown as an influential student-led climate crisis organization.

SFSA organizes a diversity of green initiatives for its members, such as green documentary events, upcycling workshops and clothing recycling. 

An interview with the association’s Communication Manager, Maurits Jansen, helped to provide a better understanding of what SFSA is and what they do to promote sustainability in Amsterdam. 

Jansen joined SFSA because he believes in the importance of inspiring young people to get involved in climate activism and to network with others who share this goal. He outlines two steps that are crucial in being more environmentally friendly, the first being to be conscious about the impact the things you do have, and the second being simply about taking action.

But how can a green mindset be incorporated into an already-busy life?

Jansen explains that the best way to make less of an environmental impact is to think about your green status through your seemingly small daily decisions. For instance, he explains that if he decides to eat meat one day, he will walk home instead of taking an Uber later that day. It is these compensations, he says, which we must all strive to implement into our everyday lives. 

There are no shortcuts to solving the climate crisis- only a joint effort to implement this climate-friendly thinking will make necessary changes, according to Jansen. Adjusting your thinking and taking the steps will become a habit if you do it enough. He explains that unfortunately, everything we do leaves a carbon footprint and emphasises how we must make conscious practices a part of our daily routines. “But don’t be so hard on yourself. It is not supposed to feel like a burden if you set it as a habit.”

There are already many initiatives being taken by universities in Amsterdam, such as investing in green office spaces and encouraging sustainable and innovative student projects and ideas regarding the climate crisis. 

SFSA wants to give any student from an Amsterdam-based university the opportunity to engage in its fun and impactful events and projects, regardless of the course they are studying.

Small changes matter and the key is to believe that every action is worth something. So why not join one of SFSA’s upcoming events or check out their website on how to get involved in initiatives for the climate? Tackling the climate crisis starts with the belief that your impact matters. Despite the negativity that crowds our news streams, we must take responsibility and be conscious of our role in climate change. 

To learn more about SFSA, check out their website at https://sfsa.nl/ or their Instagram @sfsa_amsterdam.

Isabella Nijm is a student at the University of Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer. 

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