'Step by step towards a sustainable world'

The world is facing an acute climate crisis. In a series of interviews, Nuffic partners and alumni of our programs talk about their commitment to a more sustainable world. Part 3: Marisa Beunk from Wageningen.
ESN Network

Marisa Beunk studies Environmental Sciences at Wageningen University & Research and followed a minor at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid with an Erasmus grant. Marisa was chair of the Erasmus Student Network Wageningen in the period 2019-2020. ESN Wageningen is part of the ESN network of internationally oriented students with 500 departments in 42 countries.

“ESN helps international students to quickly feel at home and is open to all students,” Marisa explains. “In this way, ESN makes a major contribution to culture meets culture.” Within this network, Marisa was the national initiator of the Sustainability Committee in 2019.

The biggest sustainability challenge is…

“…creating awareness among people. At first I thought we should start with changing the economic system, because people always go for the cheapest choice. But that choice precedes a lot. The most important – and most interesting – in that process is telling the right story, i.e. communication. When I showered too long as a child, my father only had to shout ‘polar bears’ and I turned off the tap.”

“As a society, we cannot switch to zero waste overnight. What we can do today is to create environmental awareness, to inspire each other. You can get so much out of people and that starts with talking. Words can inspire and enthuse people. That is why I decided to combine Environmental Sciences with Communication Sciences for my Master's degree.”

I contribute to a more sustainable world by…

“…giving sustainability a place in ESN's policy. All local chapters work together on a national level. As a reader of the new national policy plan, I noticed that the theme of sustainability was missing, even though it is one of ESN's international objectives. We pointed this out and we got a lot of people on board. A movement arose. At the next national meeting I was invited to give a workshop on sustainability, which resulted in the Sustainability Committee.”

My commitment to sustainability matters because…

“…every individual has influence. Environmental problems seem to make people desperate and I am only one person. At the same time, you can indeed bring about change. Look at ESN's sustainability committee. It came about because we decided to use our voice.”

“If you get people on board, it creates a snowball effect. At the next national meeting I gave another workshop on sustainability. Afterwards I was asked whether I could also give that workshop in Italy. This way you make progress step by step and reach more people.”

“Patience is important. You don't have to become a vegetarian right away, you can also start eating less meat. I make envelopes from old magazines myself. People are innovative and the earth is strong. If we all go in the right direction, I believe that we will get through the climate crisis together.”

Nuffic & Sustainability

In a new series, we introduce you to a number of our partners from all walks of life who are making an impact with regard to sustainability. Read more about our efforts on sustainable student mobility.

Part 1: Aysha Mahmoud Abu Allan, Jordan: ‘We are all impacted by climate change’

Part 2: Rogier Mul, Oss: ‘Duurzaamheidspark laat zien dat er alternatieven zijn’ (in Dutch)

Part 4: Terry Afram, Ghana: ‘Inspireren we allen één persoon, dan veranderen we de wereld’ (in Dutch)