Amar van Laar / PhD candidate

Ghent University / Molecular Nutrition & Biomedical Health Sciences

The translation of this testimony was generated automatically by a translation program. Thanks for your understanding.

As a nutrition and health scientist with a strong interest in the environment, I fight daily for a healthy society on a healthy planet. I perceive climate change and the epidemic of chronic diseases as the most important problems in this century. In both cases prevention is key and should be initiated now. The World Health Organization estimates that 4,2 million people die each year as a result of air pollution. Furthermore, 91% of the world’s inhabitants live in areas with poor air quality, which is unacceptable.
In order to contribute, (I) I perform health-related nutrition research, (II) actively participate in commissions and think tanks dealing with the problems of health, climate & nutrition, and (III) via my activities as a board member of Jong Groen. I reduce my own footprint by being vegetarian, preventing to waste food, not driving a car, wearing warm clothes instead of heating and by choosing for alternatives for the airplane. I keep an eye on politicians as well.
It remains a struggle to reduce the use of plastics, especially as someone who has to work sterile in the lab. I am trying to reduce the unnecessary use of water as well.
I would advice the government to invest in cycling roads, public transport, an affordable European train network, research on environment innovations and funding for climate-conscious start-ups. In addition, taxes for companies should be based on both profits and carbon footprint. I would be an advocate of implementing school courses on healthy and sustainable nutrition, like we do for smoking. And we need climate regulations in Belgium…
For the consumer, I would recommend buying local plant-based foods and using the bicycle if possible. We can even save money in the long run by isolating our houses, replacing old devices and producing our own energy.
Small changes make a difference when performed by many people. We should not be afraid of being pioneers. Revolutions have to start somewhere and if children can make climate a hot topic, scientist should be able to make ideals reality!

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