Time to vote!

Cobouw column by Rianne Albers-Schouten

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On 16 March, citizens can once again go to the polls. The upcoming municipal elections are receiving little attention. The big issues in these elections are housing, sustainability, the energy transition, nature and mobility – issues that have a major impact on our living environment and for which we, as a sector, are also responsible. The municipality has a big say in our living environment because it decides where houses are built, where wind turbines are erected and where new roads are constructed, among other things. Municipalities are also largely responsible for the implementation of the Regional Energy Strategy, the effects of which will be very tangible in our living environment. All of which makes it all the more surprising that these elections are receiving such little attention.

In 2018, 45% of eligible voters didn’t vote in the municipal elections. A low turnout can result in local policies that are not representative of the population as a whole, and can ultimately lead to problems in the implementation of our projects. There is a risk that citizens only start to express their views at a very late stage in the planning process, for example in the form of protests or formal appeals.  

As a sector, we should highlight the importance of these elections. One way in which we could do this is by explaining the issues at stake, many of which have a direct bearing on our sector. As independent experts, our challenge is to explain complex issues in understandable language and communicate how they affect people's living environment. Think big, but start small. Start by explaining the importance of the elections to the people around you and, above all, make sure you vote, too!

More information?

Rianne Albers-Schouten