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Embracing Sustainability: The Dutch SDG Finals 2024

On July 4th, 2024, Hilversum buzzed with an air of innovation and excitement as the Gooiland Theater hosted the Dutch SDG Finals. This remarkable event brought together a diverse assembly of students, companies, and institutions, all united by a common purpose: driving sustainable development. The event was a testament to the collective effort towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations.


Sustainability Pitches

The heart of the event was the series of sustainability pitches, selected from over 150 students, showcasing a range of innovative solutions to pressing sustainability issues. For the past months, students with various backgrounds were brought together to tackle sustainability challenges of 27 companies and organizations such as: DELA, Philips, IBM's Kyndryl, Rijkswaterstaat and more. Each group focused on the challenge of their assigned organization. From sustainable agriculture to improving accessibility in physical education for blind students, each project was carefully researched and resulted in innovative and creative solutions.


Volvo's Vision for Sustainability

Volvo presented a forward-thinking approach focused on measuring and visualizing the environmental footprint of their IT operations. Their proposal included developing an innovative checklist to promote eco-design practices within software development. This initiative aimed to embed sustainability deeply into Volvo's operations by emphasizing precise measurement and visibility of environmental impacts.

 

Vitens' Strides Against Plastic Waste

Vitens tackled the significant challenge of reducing plastic waste in laboratories. Their multifaceted strategy involved replacing PET bottle labels with laser-engraved QR codes to facilitate recycling, implementing strict waste separation processes, and exploring eco-friendly consumables. Their collaborative approach with other Dutch laboratories aimed to collectively pressure suppliers to adopt sustainable practices, highlighting their commitment to environmental stewardship.

 

The Dutch SDG Finals 2024 featured a diverse array of sustainability pitches from students across various disciplines. Projects ranged from promoting sustainable behaviors through digital applications to optimizing food waste management in healthcare settings. Each pitch exemplified innovative solutions and a commitment to advancing the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), fostering collaboration between academia, industry, and government sectors. These initiatives not only addressed pressing environmental challenges but also showcased the potential of young minds to drive impactful change towards a more sustainable future.


Inspiration Session

An inspiration session provided attendees with valuable insights and guidance on taking the next steps towards a sustainable future. Going back into one's own life, your own values, and takes a deeper dive into their relation to the SDGs. Which goals are important to you and why? How do we incorporate the goals in our own life to create a better future?


Take the next step by

  1. identifying which SDGs you find most important and how you can implement this.

  2. setting an alarm in your agenda on January 4th, 8:00am, with your steps. This will act as a reminder of your established goals, allowing you to review your progress and identify areas for improvement.


Celebrating collaboration and impact

The event culminated in an awards ceremony, where the most promising solutions were recognized by an expert jury. The winners were:

 

SDG Team of the Year: Vitens, whose student consultants convinced the jury of the feasibility and scalability of their versatile solution to reduce plastic use in their laboratory.

 

SDG Partner of the Year: Kyndryl, honored for their tireless commitment to guiding the student team and embedding sustainability principles within their organization.

 

SDG Audience Award: NXP, awarded for their innovative app that encourages sustainable behavior among employees, focusing on inclusivity and the environment.



Key lessons

The Dutch SDG Finals were more than just a competition; they were a celebration of collaboration, innovation, and impact. The event brought together an entire ecosystem of education, business, and government, creating a unique opportunity to not only celebrate achievements but also critically examine the future of sustainable development.


The creativity and dedication demonstrated by the participants highlight the potential of collaborative efforts in driving meaningful change. As we look to the future, we must persist in our innovation and strive for a sustainable future with the Sustainability Development Goals in mind.


Watch the after movie here!


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