Marije Klomp
Marije Klomp

Column Marije Klomp: The time is NOW!

Radboud University aims to use its new campaign to weigh in on the sustainability debate. Why has this campaign been launched at this particular time? Radboud University’s Sustainability Programme Director Marije Klomp wrote a column about it.

Procrastination. Do you recognise this term? I’m very familiar with it. The road at the front of our house is part of the course for the Zevenheuvelenloop (Seven Hills Run), which is held each year. In the six years that I’ve lived here, my urge to participate in this run has intensified. Spurred on by friends and colleagues who also take part, I hear myself saying each time they’re dismantling the stands: “I’m going to take part next year too.” But if I think about actually putting in the effort to train for the run? I don’t think so... It’s too cold/hot/dark/wet outside, I’ve got work to do, I need to buy another pair of trainers first, I can’t find the treadmill for my phone. There are enough reasons to put it off for now.

Working through the resistance. Enduring a little pain for a good cause. Or changing your habits and adjusting your normal tempo. These are all things that we tend to avoid. Unfortunately, this behaviour not only applies to my running goals: I also see it reflected in other aspects of my life. Even when it comes to problems that are bigger than my athletic mindset.

For example, for the last few decades, we’ve watched our climate change. We have enough evidence to know that as humans, there is something that we can do about this problem. We know which transitions are needed to turn the tide, or at least which ones will help us to stay within safe margins. But all of these things cost too much time, money and effort... We’re stuck in self-constructed systems and, in the short term, we still feel pretty comfortable about where we are. At least that’s how we feel here in the western world. The fact that it’s been raining more frequently in the Netherlands and we’ve noticed that in the summertime our crisp Dutch landscape is starting to resemble the South of France repeatedly makes us aware of what’s going on. But how can we essentially tackle this problem at the individual level? Anything that we do feels like a mere drop in the ocean. The issues are vast, complex, and they exist on a global scale. I regularly hear people ask: “What can I do to help?”

This emotional inertia and sense of indifference are fortunately also being offset by some positive developments. Imagine if it wasn’t only the climate experts, sustainability managers, sustainable entrepreneurs and policymakers who were committed to change, but that we could exploit the potential of the entire labour force. And imagine if contributing to this huge shift towards a liveable planet was just part of your job. In this case we’d need the best lawyers with a knowledge of sustainability and law, the most creative chefs to win the next Green Michelin star, the smartest economists who understand how we can achieve a healthy balance sheet, healthcare professionals who contribute to a lower footprint, teachers who teach children from an early age about what is valuable, marketers who don’t greenwash, but contribute to a truly sustainable narrative, technicians who make the energy transition possible. I could go on and on.

Bringing a variety of professionals together has two major advantages. First of all, it means that we could work towards change much faster, much smarter and with greater coherence. Sustainability would then no longer be something that was added to an organisation’s aims, but it would be supported from within. Secondly, it would make a lot more people feel that they could not only contribute in a personal capacity, but also make a professional contribution. That they would feel empowered instead of feeling helpless.

Since most of the labour force probably learnt very little about this during their education, it’s vital that we start sharing this sustainability knowledge on a grand scale and that we continue to develop it with each other in all sectors and fields. And that we do this through continuing education, training courses, learning communities and research projects. This would emphasise the process of lifelong development in the major challenges that we’re facing together. When you take the first step towards this, it will hopefully feel as good as embarking on that first run. Because the fact is that I’ve finally started training for the run, and it feels great!

This column is written by Marije Klomp, Radboud University’s Sustainability Programme Director.

Get involved so that we can become more sustainable together!

Radboud University brings together companies, practitioners and scientists so that they can explore how theory and practice can be connected in a way that accelerates sustainable change within organisations and society. Join us at The Time is Now Seminar on Wednesday, 6 March.

Sign up

You have a part to play

Our society is facing major challenges. Radboud University wants to contribute to a healthy, free world with equal chances for everyone. With ‘Je bent nodig’ (You have a part to play), Radboud University aims to reach people who want to contribute to that goal.

Would you like to actively contribute or read more about sustainability in our education and research? Visit for more information.


Contact information

Current affairs, Sustainability