ASU partners with the Netherlands on new center to solve sustainability challenges

Haarlemmermeer Netherlands

TEMPE, Ariz. - January 22, 2013 - Arizona State University’s (ASU) Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) and the Municipality of Haarlemmermeer, The Netherlands, have created an innovative collaboration to solve challenges of sustainability.

The partnership and the establishment of an ASU Global Sustainability Solutions Center (GSSC) in Haarlemmermeer will serve as an international platform for engagement with organizations and people who want to live and do business in Haarlemmermeer and the region. It will bring together the diverse and powerful resources of universities, businesses, NGOs, communities, and government organizations to tackle tough sustainability problems and ultimately find solution sets.

“Haarlemmermeer and ASU both have profound commitments to sustainability, innovation and to finding ways to improve life in municipalities. Both are creating and implementing systems that respect natural and human resources while simultaneously developing the economy. The Center is an excellent vehicle for enabling Haarlemmermeer and ASU to work together to achieve their shared goal of a sustainable future and for educating students who will lead it”, said Rob Melnick, Executive Dean and Professor of the Global Institute of Sustainability.

The Haarlemmermeer center is the first of three Global Sustainability Solutions Centers in the world. The other two locations include Hong Kong and yet to be determined location in Latin America. “As the Netherlands location begins operation its main initial focus will be on projects which benefit the local and regional community. Ultimately, each Center will have a regional scope, working on challenges and lessons from Europe, Asia and Latin America,” said Marta Hulley Friedman, program manager of the Global Sustainability Solutions Centers at ASU.

The Global Sustainability Solutions Centers are one of eight programs of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, an investment to GIOS from the Rob and Melani Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation. The Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives utilize the brightest minds in sustainability science to develop solutions to real-world problems throughout the globe.

“The initiatives are designed to focus the enormous knowledge assets of ASU to measurably impact and ultimately, resolve social, environmental, and economic challenges of sustainability,” said Patricia Reiter, director of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives.

“Haarlemmermeer’s ambition in the coming years is to create a thriving climate of innovative sustainable businesses, organizations and knowledge institutions and to develop the most sustainable location in the region,” according to Haarlemmermeer’s vice-mayor, John Nederstigt. “Sustainability and innovation are the driving forces for economic growth in this world, especially now when we need to look differently at solving our world’s challenges on social, environmental and economic issues. We have a vision that by joining forces with GSSC as well as several other commercial initiatives at the largest C2C based business ‘Park 20|20’ in Holland, we can have a catalyst effect on knowledge transfer and business. We hope to grow Haarlemmermeer to a ‘Silicon Valley of innovation and sustainability’ in Europe,” said Nederstigt.

The Global Sustainability Solutions Center in Haarlemmermeer will focus on:

  • Creating value for local clients and communities by assembling teams of experts, including international partners and ASU’s sustainability scientists, faculty, and students.
  • Sharing best practices and investigating how other organizations around the world have managed these challenges.
  • Raising regional awareness of sustainability issues by working with international partners on outreach programs and workshops.
  • Leveraging the findings of other Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives and use them to solve shared sustainability challenges.
  • Solving real-world sustainability problems in a global context by harnessing the talents of promising students.
  • Developing measurement indicators and document long-term impacts.

In its first year of operation, goals for the GSSC are to establish itself in the community of Haarlemmermeer by making contacts with local organizations and launching at least two projects where ASU expertise contributes to sustainability solutions; and to provide opportunities for students to learn from existing initiatives in Haarlemmermeer and the region.

The Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives are the result of a $27.5 million investment in the Global Institute of Sustainability by the Rob and Melani Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation. The investment will be distributed over a period of five years (2012 to 2016) assuming required metrics are achieved. The Initiatives will be self-sustaining by 2016. While the Initiatives span a wide range of education, research, and application activities, they are not an external grant provider. Within the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, diverse teams of faculty, students, entrepreneurs, researchers, and innovators collaborate to deliver sustainability solutions, accelerate global impacts, and inspire future leaders. For more information, visit