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Do Individual Incentives Really Matter for Sustainability?

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

Often called the cycling capital of the world, Amsterdam is a city striving for sustainability. While sustainable actions can be prompted through long-term institutional policy changes, it is important to remember the significance of individual incentives. While we know that individual choices alone are not enough to make impacts on the grand scale of things, it is crucial in creating a collective consensus.


Recently, the UvA has put forth various institutional initiatives and achieved goals to lessen environmental impact such as suspending research collaborations with Shell and switching to sustainable banking services. In addition to proposing institutional goals, 020 aims to take a pragmatic approach by putting a further focus on individual actions to invite climate-friendly incentives within the campus.


With adherence to this pillar, there have been policy updates in 020’s advocacy to improve sustainable behavior. In a short amount of time, the representatives at the 020's Central Student Council have put forth initiatives such as encouraging students to bring their own cups to reduce waste and costs of paper cups with discounts on drinks in cafeterias and coffee machines. More recently, the council initiated the pilot for oat milk in coffee which creates 80% less carbon footprint than dairy milk.


The hope is for students and staff to be able to easily implement environmental strategies while on campus, but more importantly, so that they can carry on these behaviors in their day-to-day choices and influence collective actions. With the UvA being one of the biggest universities in Amsterdam, individual actions can turn into collaborative efforts and on the grand scale of things, these actions can make differences at institutional and societal levels.



Article by Asmi Banjara

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