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Catena wins 2020 Sustainability Prize

The Sustainability Prize of the Leiden University Green Office and the Local Chamber of Associations has been won this year by student association Catena. In the shadow of the corona pandemic, Catena worked exceptionally hard to improve sustainability.

'The corona pandemic is changing everything, including life in student associations,' was the comment by the jury of the Leiden University Green Office (LUGO) and the Leiden Chamber of the PKvV (the local chamber of student associations). 'Right now, student associations are much less active  than normal in organising social events.' The organisers of the award looked for associations that were keen to use this quiet period to develop plans that would have a positive effect on the associationitself and its immediate environment and that will maintain their sustainability activities when normal life is allowed to resume again. 

The physical presentation of the Sustainability Prize to the chair of Catena, Faisal de Ling. The prize consists of a stylish charging station that runs on solar energy and, of course, a plant.

Unanimous choice

LUGO and PKvV were unanimous in their choice of V.S.L. Catena as the winner of the Sustainability Prize. Catena has set a good example to students and city, commented the jury. The association has made sustainability one of its priorities, setting up a special working group to focus on this theme and that has already achieved so much. The iinitiatives they have taken include the use of cups made from hard plastic and glass, both of which can be washed and reuse. The restaurant at Catena also always offers a vegetarian meal and during half the week only cooks vegan or vegetarian food. 

To encourage other student restaurants to offer a vegetarian menu more often, the working group will shortly be starting a course to teach people how to cook using vegetable-based  sources of protein, such as tofu and beans. They also aim to encourage others to cook with seasonal vegetables and fruit. The annual Basil Festival organised by the association offers sustainability-related lectures, sustainable products and foodtrucks with vegan food. 

Green roof

But these are not the only plans: Catena, located in the Kolfmakersteeg, is soon to have a green roof, which is an effective insulation as well as providing a good natural habitat for bees and other insects. As the jury stated, 'Catena has used this relatively quiet time to contribute in an innovative way to their own sustainability and that of the environment. We believe this is an excellent example for others, making Catena a worthy winner for 2020.' 

The prize was presented to Catena - in virtual form - on 5 November at the meeting of the newly elected association boards with the Executive Board of the University. The in-person presentation to the chairperson followed later (see photo). LUGO and PKvV hope the prize will encourage other major associations in Leiden and The Hague to use this corona period to work on sustainability both within their own  organisation and in the local environment. 

Virtual presentation of the prize 
The presentation of the Sustainability Prize at the meeting of the newly elected association boards is a relatively new tradition. This meeting, in the autumn, is when the new boards of the associations meet the Executive Board (CvB) of the University. Previously, the CvB members would receive separate invitations from each association to join them at a reception to meet the newly elected members of the association's board. However, this was very time-consuming and proved almost impossible to fit into the over-full diaries of the CvB members. The Executive Board therefore decided to organise a joint reception where they could meet all the new board members together.

Text: Corine Hendriks
Top photo : Catena in corona times...
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