Name: Aniek Moonen
Major: Governance, Economics and Development
Master: Not yet!
Hey Aniek! Thanks for sitting down with me. Let’s jump right in, with the reason I decided to reach out to you. The organization you work at was nominated for the Dutch Sustainable 100, which tries to rank sustainable people, initiatives and organizations. And then you won! How did that feel?
Really great! Not only was the Jonge Klimaatbeweging (JKB; Youth Climate Movement NL) the first organization to win, we were also the first youth organization to do so. It’s great to see that our efforts are being rewarded and that this price isn’t only for people who’ve been working in the field for 20+ years. It really helped us a lot as an organization and we received a lot of exposure. The JKB is only five years old, so we’re still growing rapidly and our impact is expanding exponentially! We now have regular access to people and places we were still dreaming of last year! Besides that, more and more young people are reaching out because they want to join us in our efforts.
That’s wonderful to hear! So what is it that you guys actually do, and what is your role at the JKB?
The JKB is an organization that represents a large and diverse group of youth organizations from the Netherlands. Together with over 100,000 young people, we have drafted a youth vision document (Jonge Klimaatagenda) in which we demonstrate how young people want to work, be educated, live, eat, travel, and receive health care in 2050. We use this vision document to push for more ambitious climate policies in the Dutch government. As a member of the board, I am responsible for this youth vision document: I make sure that the knowledge about the different themes (working, living, eating, etc.) is up-to-date and continues to grow. Besides that, I also am responsible for the We Are Tomorrow Global Partnership. Through this partnership, we work with youth organizations from all over the world to promote our respective youth vision documents and youth participation in national politics.
In the past few years, we have been able to get an important seat at the table in Dutch government. We’ve been able to influence several parties’ election programmes and were the only youth involved in the drafting of the National Climate Accord. Now, we want to make sure that seat will remain available for the generations to come. We want to show Dutch policy makers that young people care about our future and that we can and should be meaningfully involved in the policy making process.
That’s real change you’re making. Do you have any advice for the people among us that want to make a change too? Like, how do you nudge people towards a more sustainable lifestyle?
Honestly, I think that’s something all environmentalists struggle with. Especially in privileged places like the Netherlands, the urgency of the climate crisis remains hard to grasp. To make a change, I think it’s vital to shift our focus a little bit from the doom and gloom of the climate crisis, and instead focus on the good that the transition to a sustainable world could bring. The “we’ll most likely all die soon” message has appeared to not be very efficient in creating positive change. Rather, the JKB paints a beautiful picture of how prosperous the Netherlands could be in 2050 if we opt for progressive climate policies now.
Thanks—I like that perspective. Next to your work with JKB, you’re also interning full-time at ASN Bank, the sustainable bank. So at which of the two do you think you make the biggest impact?
Definitely at the JKB! And that surprised me too. Linking back to LUC, I’ve always had this idea that to make an impact you needed to be part of—or preferably head—a really big company. But the past couple of months have shown me that that doesn’t have to be true. You can have a really big influence on the world without being a CEO. I really appreciate the freedom I have at this youth organization. We’re in complete control of what we say and what we lobby or advocate for. I think that is a freedom you wouldn’t have as a company or a political party.
That sounds inspiring. If not a CEO, who is someone you really look up to?
Am I supposed to say Greta Thunberg now? (Laughs)
I actually follow a lot of young people that inspire me, especially in the climate sphere, and it’s too difficult to choose! Looking beyond the climate sphere though, someone young who stands out to me and inspires me is my friend Lisa de Pagter. Where I fight for the climate, she does so for youth participation, equality and sexual health. Maybe you should interview her next!
We might do that. How about you, what comes next for you?
My time at the bank is going to end in two weeks, so I’m starting a new adventure after that. I’m planning to start my Master’s in September, but will be working at the Dutch Sustainable Energy Association (Nederlandse Vereniging Duurzame Energie; NVDE) until then. After finishing LUC, I purposefully didn’t start my Master’s immediately, because I wanted to see a bit of the world before deciding what I’d study next. I definitely want to pursue my studies in the sustainability field, but I don’t know whether I want to do a broad degree, or specialize. Currently, I’m considering a programme in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen.
So, a final question I’m certain you’ve been expecting. I took at your LinkedIn, and one thing really stands out to me. How did you end up being a summer intern at Disney of all places?
I get this question every single time I apply for a job! (Laughs)
I was a PR Intern at The Walt Disney Company in the summer of 2018, which was the summer between my second and third year of LUC. Like a lot of other students at LUC, I felt bad about doing nothing all summer, so I went for it! Looking back, I had an amazing time at Disney, but I also wouldn’t have minded spending my summer on the beach! As the PR intern, I luckily spent a lot of time outside preparing for movie premieres and other events.
I often get asked about this experience, as it looks a little odd on my CV, but I have never regretted this position. I would recommend everyone to try out a bunch of different things professionally and not to restrict yourself to a specific position or sector too much. All experience is good experience, and in the end, my time at Disney is often what makes me stand out between all the other applicants with a sustainable background!
Thank you so much for your time Aniek!
This post was part of a larger series of “portraits” of Alumni. Want to be featured, have questions for Aniek, or about alumni in general? Do not hesitate to reach out to Evolucio via our website, LinkedIn, Facebook or email@example.com.