‘A new system is needed’

25th of October

‘It’s time to say goodbye to parts of the old system. And that is not an easy process.’ Godelieve van Heteren was one of the participants in the Crutzen workshop in Egmond aan Zee from 9 to 11 October. She is an international expert on planetary health, health system change and governance. ‘I believe a new system is needed, and the KIN’s format for this Crutzen workshop appealed to me.’

Standing at the bus stop in Alkmaar on Monday morning, she was not the only one on her way to the KIN workshop; that much was soon apparent to her. ‘All sorts of ideas came along. Then you notice that people like to pitch their own ideas. And that’s all right. All those ideas together made for wonderful days.  I think very few scientist came with the prime incentive to get some of the research money available. The energy was good. Everyone is looking for change. But it is not that easy, and it takes time. Even if people think old expectations do not hinder them, you often find you have to deal with that in such a process.’

And that is why Godelieve enjoyed participating in this workshop so much. ‘It is a beautiful and essential experiment. An honest attempt is being made to arrive at a work program in cooperation with social parties. Co-creation is a lovely word, but putting it into practice takes a lot of time. It starts with learning to understand each other’s language. The chosen method – Open Space Technology – offered enough space for all the different parties and insights. There was enough generational diversity: young people full of ideals and dreams, older people who provided a reality check. You need all that, those different perspectives and experiences.’

One of the topics that came up was the importance of changing the current funding streams of academia. ‘And that is precisely what the KIN is trying to do, although the fact that the application must still be made through the NWO system can be confusing. That is unfortunate, but it is also understandable. Like I said, you can’t turn around this kind of system overnight. I also work as a consultant for the World Bank. It is a global issue. The question of how to finance sustainability differently is critical. That is why it matters a lot to me that this KIN experiment succeeds. Not out of personal interest, but because it is necessary for the world. We need to try new things. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it does not. We shouldn’t be too afraid of that.’

Godelieve was very appreciative of the organization. ‘You could see how much work had gone into it at the front, and you can only appreciate that. It was also good that three days were set aside for it instead of one afternoon, as is often the case. Precisely because people had to learn to speak each other’s language and had to get to know each other. The resulting energy was wonderful. I wanted to hold on to that. So, to come together to form a consortium that can apply for a work program, I volunteered to assist the KIN in a meeting they are organizing on October 26th. The purpose of that meeting is now clear to everyone. So I am confident that a dynamic group will commit to a good work program.’