On 14 February 2022, property developer EDGE and the owner of Valley, Group of Companies, signed a lease with the initiators of the project. Sapiens is expected to open in the spring of 2023.
Philipp Pattberg, director of the Amsterdam Sustainability Institute, refers to the period in which we are living as the Anthropocene – ‘the geological age of man-made disturbances that are affecting the entire planet. What is at stake is nothing less than the survival of the human species. And what we need to do in order to avert that catastrophe is also clear.’ Sapiens will be a place where young people in particular can work on practical projects and initiatives to tackle the huge questions that the climate and biodiversity crisis are bringing.
According to the initiators Hogeschool Inholland, Naturalis Biodiversity Centre and VU University Amsterdam, a place like Sapiens is needed because a thorough revision of the Anthropocene is required. That includes long-term action on issues like the climate, biodiversity and sustainability based on a communal, multidisciplinary approach. Sapiens, the collaborative workplace of the Anthropocene, will contribute to this challenge by radically rethinking current approaches to sustainability and providing creative ways to reconnect with the planet and its inhabitants. Sapiens is about nothing less than a systemic change in society, the transformation of sectors and new methods of integrated and inclusive cooperation to redress the balance between man and nature.
Young people taking the lead
‘We want to help everybody, but especially young people who are concerned about quality of life, by making their concerns visible, sharing knowledge and thinking about solutions for a sustainable future’, says Edwin van Huis, director of Naturalis Biodiversity Centre. ‘We want to see young people taking the lead, with the support of advice from experienced experts. That applies to both the substantive projects and to the organization itself, which will be taking shape in the next few weeks and months.’
Teaching and research
Students from VU Amsterdam and Inholland University of Applied Sciences as well as young researchers from all three organizations are playing an important role in this initiative, says Mieke van den Berg, member of the Executive Board of Inholland University of Applied Sciences. ‘This is a great opportunity for our students and colleagues to contribute to developing a new and truly sustainable way of life together with inspiring academic and professional partners. And with the knowledge and experience that they acquire, they will also be able to contribute to the further integration of sustainability into our education and research. The benefits flow both ways.’