UN Youth Delegate Dennis Jansen: 'We live as if there are ten earths'
Alumnus Dennis Jansen was recently elected as Youth Delegate at the United Nations. For the next two years, he is committed to the area of Sustainable Development and will discuss this topic with young people.
Because that is what you do as a Youth Delegate, according to Dennis. ‘It is my job to gather as much input as possible from young people, by talking to them', Dennis says. He does this, for example, by visiting schools to give guest lectures. Or by visiting workshops or events where young people are present. Dennis then takes the input he has gathered with him to important meetings. ‘I make sure that tips and advice from young people on the topic of sustainability reach international bodies and the Dutch government. I give them a voice and make sure they are heard as much as possible. In short, I am the bridge between young people and politics.'
Sustainability is a very important topic to Dennis: 'I get worried when I look at the current situation and its impact on our earth in the coming years. We live as if there are ten earths, but we only have one.' That is why he decided to focus on this topic during his Bachelor in International Studies. ‘It is a study programme where you, yourself, get to make a lot choices. Of course, there are guidelines, but you have the freedom to research what you think is interesting and for me that was sustainability.' That's why he wrote his thesis on sustainability, using theories about political ecology and circular economics. ‘Before I started my bachelor degree, I was already working on this topic, but now I also had an academic idea of what's going on and what academics have to say about it.'
Engage in conversation
He will use this knowledge for his new position. As a Youth Delegate, it is important for Dennis that young people know that they can always turn to him. ‘Input is welcome on many fronts, so come to me to start a conversation.’ Still, he understands that this might sometimes be a difficult topic: ‘For some young people it is a heavy topic, not every young person has the financial means or time to make sustainable choices. Above all, do what is possible for you and what fits and can be done in your life. You can't save the world on your own, but together we can try our best.’
Contributing to the future
Dennis: 'I now have a certain position at a table where people take me seriously, which is nice because people listen to what I say. This way I can contribute to my own future, that of my children and that of generations to come.' In his everyday life, the Youth Delegate also does a lot in the field of sustainability. ‘I follow a plant-based diet, try to buy only second-hand clothes and I pay attention to my water consumption. They are small steps, but that does not make them any less important.'