Ergens rond de eeuwwisseling is mijn persoonlijke omslag naar duurzaamheid begonnen. Ik werkte toen bij een organisatie aan de uitvoering van de duurzame ontwikkelingsverdragen met Benin, Bhutan en Costa Rica. De bedoeling was om gezamenlijk tot nieuwe vormen van internationale samenwerking te komen. Gelijkwaardigheid en wederkerigheid waren hierbij essentieel. En duurzaamheid uiteraard. Kort na een werkbezoek aan Bhutan – het Himalaya Koninkrijk waar het Bruto Nationaal Product ondergeschikt is aan het Bruto Nationaal Geluk – heb ik echter afgehaakt. De lange mars door de instituten koerste naar mijn idee te zeer af op een doodlopende straat. Mijn belangstelling voor duurzaamheid heb ik toen verlegd van institutionele verandering naar gedragsverandering.
Ik ben een geëngageerde pleitbezorger geworden van duurzaam leven: eerst als hoofdredacteur van magazine Genoeg en lid van het Amerikaanse SimplicityForum. Daarna als onderzoeker bij de Universiteit Maastricht en Kyoto University en als lid van het wereldnetwerk PERL. Ik heb stichting LIFT opgericht, de sociale onderneming die het succesvolle Liftjeleven actieprogramma realiseert. Overigens ben ik zelf ook een enthousiaste downshifter en hosselaar, autoloos, dol op tuinieren en wars van verspilling.
Inmiddels ben ik een ervaren trainer en enthousiaste lezinggever over duurzaam leven, downshiften en hosselen. Mijn workshops zijn korte, intensieve trainingen, praktisch, persoonlijk en vooral probleem oplossend!
Somewhere around the turn of the century, my personal turn towards sustainability has started. At that time, I was a staff member of a semi-governmental organization which was in charge with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agreements. These contracts were meant to innovate the international cooperation between the Netherlands and Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica. Since this goal was far too ambitious within the Dutch political context, my public relations task basically was a mission impossible. Soon after a working visit to Bhutan – the Himalayan kingdom where the Gross National Happiness is put before the Gross National Product – I quitted the long march through the institutions while apparently it was just heading for the dead end street. Since I have transferred my professional and personal interest from institutional change for sustainability to behavioral change. I have become a dedicated sustainable living advocate; first as editor-in chief of the Dutch magazine Genoeg (= Enough) and member of the Simplicity Forum; and later also as an academic researcher, with a position as research fellow at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and at Kyoto University in Japan. At the end of 2010 I defended my PhD study on Living with Less: Prospects for Sustainability. Then I have initiated a successful innovation in sustainable living: the Lift your Life action-program and founded the LIFT Foundation, a social enterprise for projects and research on sustainable living. Besides, I am an enthusiastic downshifter myself: carless, fond of gardening, abhorrent of wasteful consumption.
I have become an experienced trainer and lecturer and I like it very much. My favourite topics are sustainable living, downshifting and “hosselen”. My workshops are short, intensive trainings. The approach is practical, personal and particularly problem solving.
Results of my researches have inspired me to develop the Lift your Life action program. The program helps people dealing more effectively with their finances, the environment and their health & well-being. The action program provides concrete tools for behavioral change. The fact that participants choose topics that are valuable for their own life, is an important plus. Therefore the LiftyourLife program is not a prefab course, but a personal lifestyle change process coached by certified supervisors.
In 2012 Lift your Life has been recognized as an important social innovation by the Oranje Fonds, the largest endowed foundation in the field of social cohesion and wellbeing in the Netherlands. The Oranje Fonds financially supported its startup during 3 1/2 years. The method is also recognized as a European Good Practice for Poverty Alleviation.
Foundation LIFT is the implementer of this program and provides as well the training of the supervisors. More info www.stichtinglift.nl
social entrepreneur * researcher * lecturer * publicist
Academic pioneer with an original, inventive mind and strong communicative and managerial skills
Expert in consumer behavior change – sustainability
Social entrepreneur: initiator and director of the social enterprise Foundation LIFT, that promotes the Lift your Life action-program. The initiative was rewarded as an important social innovation by the Oranje Fonds, the largest endowment foundation in the area of social welfare in the Netherlands and honored with a visit of Queen Máxima. The project is also acknowledged as a European best practice for (energy) poverty alleviation.
Visiting scholar at the Center for South Easth Asian Studies, Kyoto University in 2020 and in 2012. Research topics have been Towards Sustainable Living: Pilot study of the Lift your Life Action-Program (2020) and a Comparative study of downshifting and sustainability in Japan. (in 2012)
As academic Researcher (2005 to present) I have initiated, managed and completed an innovative research project seeking solutions for one of the major current questions: how to inspire consumers towards a more sustainable lifestyle? The project was adopted as a PhD research by two supervisors: dr Pim Martens, Professor of Sustainable Development Sciences and dr Gerjo Kok, Professor of Social Psychology; both at Maastricht University. I held a position as researcher sustainable consumer behavior at the International Centre for Integrated assessment and Sustainable development (ICIS), at Maastricht University. As an independent researcher I develop a public policy project for sustainable social innovation.
My research interest include: social-cultural aspects of overconsumption and sustainability; alternative consumption trends; downshifting, ethical and philosophical questions of sustainability; consumer behavioral change.
Lecturer, trainer (2002 to present) I have lectured on sustainable consumption movements, supervised master theses on sustainable development, and co-developed and tutored undergraduate courses (Introduction Sustainable Developmen and Globalization and Environmental Change) at Maastricht University and at other educational institutes as well as at national and international conferences.
As independent teacher I organize in company-workshops and lectures about sustainable living and sustainable consumption at a.o. ABP Pension Fund, Friesland Foods, Wageningen University, Public Libraries, Women Organizations, and Religious Organizations. (See below for a detailed overview of teaching experiences). I have developed a tutor training program for the LiftyourLife action-program, and educated several co- trainers.
Publicist (2002 to present)
Main topics: entrepreneurial skills, sustainable consumption and development, consumer behavior change, personal financial planning. I popularized several results of my dissertation for a non-academic public, e.g. the manual for the Lift-your-life program Gelukkig met Genoeg (Happy with Enough) and the book Ga Hosselen: geld verdienen door ondernemend te leven (Go Husstle: how to earn money with an entrepreneurial attitude)
As editor-in-chief of the bimonthly opinion/lifestyle magazine Genoeg (= Enough) responsible for a thorough modernization and further professionalization. I also initiated and edited a public relations magazine about scientific achievements of the Maastricht Law Faculty.
(See list of publications for a selection of my work in this field).
Manager (international) communication (1992 – 2002) At Stichting Ecooperation I was responsible for and organized internal and external information processes between the Netherlands, Costa Rica, Benin, and Bhutan with regard to their cooperation under the Sustainable Development Treaties. The work involved among others political lobbying, preparing and managing negotiations, strategic analyses, press meetings and extensive coverage of sustainability projects in the field of biodiversity, water management, rural development and climate change. This position has inspired me greatly to be engaged with sustainability. At Maastricht University (Law Faculty) I successfully developed and managed an all round communication policy as well as its infrastructure, including marketing campaigns. I was also communication advisor of the Board of the Faculty of Economics & Business Administration.
Staff member and teacher (1982-1992) After graduation I was staff member of the newly founded Academy for Journalism & Communication, Tilburg – The Netherland (Fontys Academy for Journalism). I co-developed an innovative educational methodology, wrote and taught several main courses (e.g. Mass communication theories; History of Journalism; Marketing), chaired the major Magazine Journalism and supervised countless theses.
· Meet the Dutch Downshifters. How people adjust consumption expenditures, experience downsizing and contribute to sustainability. International Journal of Home Economics. Volume 5 Issue 2, due out December2012/January 2013
. Giorgio Osti (author of ‘Nuovi Asceti’) in: Genoeg nr. 67, May 2008.
. Judith Levine (author of ‘Not Buying it; my Year without Shopping’) in: Genoeg, nr. 65, Dec. 2007.
. Jan Juffermans, Global Footprint expert and advocate; in: Genoeg, nr. 55, April 2006.
. Duane Elgin (author of ‘Voluntary Simplicity; Awakening Earth’) in: Genoeg, nr. 51, Sept. 2005.
. Erica Verdegaal, expert in Personal Finances; in: Genoeg, nr. 45, Sept. 2004.
. Marius De Geus (author of ‘The End of Overconsumption; Towards of Lifestyle of Moderation and Self-restraint’) in: Genoeg, nr. 38, juni 2003.