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Dutch municipality elections in March

AiREAS calls on all political parties in these elections to place health and a healthy living environment on number 1 of every coalition negotiation and agreement. A recent video message from the World Health Organization (WHO) demonstrates once again that air pollution is a public health emergency.

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/media-resources/science-in-5/episode-66—air-pollution-a-public-health-emergency

In the past, we could desire to delegate the responsibility for our well-being to a municipal council with our vote. That is no longer the case. With our vote, we choose our municipality as a partner in the profound changes that we need to achieve together for our health and a healthy living environment. The choices that a municipality makes in its daily policy making must be geared towards these higher common goals. But we as residents or entrepreneurs cannot escape this either. Health and a healthy living environment are a shared responsibility that we all bear together (residents, municipality, companies, knowledge institutions). We cannot take it for granted or rely on an expensive healthcare system and bureaucracy to remediate our lack of proactive attention. 

Therefore, AiREAS calls on all political parties to find each other in a coalition agreement based on two fundamental areas:

  • putting health and a healthy living environment first in the negotiations for a coalition.
  • select aldermen who are given the space, support and means to co-create with the population in order to achieve a healthy society together.

The problems are mounting as we have seen during the Corona pandemic. Energy prices are skyrocketing, inflation is growing, ill health in society is a thorny issue, as are our behavioral adjustments. Our pollution is directly affecting the global climate as well. Yet we have to get through this together. How? We can best determine this together instead of waiting for yet another crisis, extra rules or bureaucracy, recessions or disaster that strikes.

Since 2011, AiREAS has been a citizens’ initiative and multidisciplinary partnership in our region to take joint responsibility for our air quality and health. The local government has been a key partner right from the beginning. And with these elections that partnership needs to continue and be enhanced. AiREAS is part of the STIR Foundation in which sustainable human development is leading, with money as one of the many means. 

During these years a lot of attention has been paid to measuring the air quality around us, but we have not yet been able to observe many changes to our behavior. Our polluting behavior is part of our daily lives and of “the system”. To change that, we have to look a lot at ourselves. Air pollution should not be an excuse for a livelihood, a growth economy or our own laziness. The consequences are simply too great and affect not only ourselves but also the health and well-being perspectives of our children and grandchildren. Behavioral change is never popular, as essential as it is given the challenges we face as humanity. That is why we need to attend these challenges together, the municipality, its citizens, our entrepreneurs and our scientists.

That is why AiREAS tries to make it fun, simple and transparent for everyone through the collaboration. But then all partners must make the most of their efforts, independently and together. The city council first, setting the example for others to follow and engage with.

And AiREAS is just one of the communities. We also face food challenges (FRE2SH), social inclusion and care for health (COS3i), the energy transition for sustainable quality of life (EQoL), etc. In each of these the municipality plays a significant role that needs to be optimized. Our elections need to prepare for this level 4 partnership effectively for the benefit of the entire city and beyond. 


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