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The climate is changing and we are all going to notice the consequences, all over the world. There are plenty of plans to prepare for this or even to reverse the process. But as an alderman for a medium-sized city in the Netherlands, what can you contribute to that? What is the impact of climate measures at a local level? Rik Thijs, alderman for climate & energy in Eindhoven, shares his dilemmas, choices, and his ambitions with us once every month. 

It was a beautiful and exciting Whitsun weekend. A weekend in which the measures surrounding the corona crisis were relaxed: more people together, terraces and restaurants opened up, theatres and cinemas made a cautious start. For myself, this weekend was different than the many weekends before, because I left Eindhoven after all that time. Walking, cycling, and canoeing on the water and enjoying the greenery in the east of our country. Could I still do it after all this time? Yes, because of the peace and quiet and all the greenery in the Achterhoek region. I realized all the more that in the intense corona months preceding this weekend, the importance of green for many people, including me, has become more important.

Many Eindhoven residents make more conscious use of the beautiful greenery in the city. The parks are full when the weather is nice. A good way to meet up safely with friends at a distance of 1.5 meters. Or to relax for a while, people take a walk in the greenery or take a bike ride around Eindhoven. It seems, now that we are more at home and stay more in our own environment, that we have revalued the green around us. It gives peace and quiet, you suddenly hear birds, you’re standing still near a beautiful tree. Figures around CO2, NOx, or PM2.5 sometimes seem to come in less directly than a tree that is about to burst open into a green cloud. A beautiful development in troubled times.

That’s why I keep talking to people even more than before about the importance of green in our city. For example, I spoke to Mike Weerts, actor and filmmaker about the importance of green in the Eindhoven Genneper Parks in corona times. And with Trefpunt Groen I keep talking about the possibilities of greening up here. We have three beautiful green areas on each side of the city that reach as far as the city center, like the Genneper Parks, but it can still be greener in the center and in the neighborhoods.

It is therefore important to put greening high on our list of priorities when further shaping the city. The more so because of our considerable ambitions about the densification of our center. We are working hard to keep our city liveable in terms of public space and green spaces. A green detour into your district, planting parks, making the inner city greener. All in all, it was a good idea to get away from Eindhoven every now and then and find inspiration in a different environment such as the Achterhoek region. Allowing me to come back to Eindhoven and see the opportunities that are there and appreciate the many green spaces in Eindhoven again, just like many people do with me.