Sapiens Amsterdam is a museum, lab, workshop and testing ground in one

Sapiens will open on the Zuidas in Amsterdam in the autumn of 2021. In this special institute, young scientists and other professionals will work on innovations and ideas about biodiversity and the climate. The building, the Valley, will soon also house exhibitions about the Anthropocene, our current era. Sapiens is an initiative of Board partners VU University Amsterdam & EDGE Technologies, Naturalis Biodiversity Center and architectural firm MVRDV.

The institute has great ambitions. The core promise is: “Sapiens gives me the energy and space to work together with others on solutions for urgent issues about society and the planet.” In this way, the institute wants to contribute to a system change, including the challenges surrounding climate and biodiversity, mobility, transformation to circular cities, consumption and behavior, nature-inclusive buildings, water and liveability, clothing, food and waste. Naturally, this also involves consideration of financing and the consequences for training and the labor market. The starting point for this is a multidisciplinary approach of government, research, industry and civil society.

The subtitle of the Sapiens program is: Workshop of the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is the scientific name for the era in which we now live and is the first era in which we see the influence of human activities in the development of the climate and the atmosphere. “Sapiens is the first institution in the world to connect the urgency of a derailing Anthropocene with admiration for the ingenuity of the human species,” the program reports.

Collaboration between government, knowledge institutions and the business community

The Amsterdam Sustainability Institute of the VU will provide research, coherence and students working on the projects from a broad social perspective. “Sapiens offers a unique platform for organizations and young talents who want to innovate and operate at the center of social transformation”, says VU board chairman and Board member Mirjam van Praag. “Interdisciplinary working, a very strong non-traditional network across all sectors and an out-of-the-box approach, based on the initiative Green Circles . Sapiens activates today’s leaders and breeds the broad-minded leaders of tomorrow. ”

Naturalis Biodiversity Center is the national research institute in the field of biodiversity. The institute has extensive expertise on specific species and knows everything about ecosystems and state-of-the-art research techniques. Naturalis director Edwin van Huis: ““ In Sapiens we can work intensively on concrete solutions together with higher education, the business community, the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, ministries, NGOs and the media. Not as a think tank, without obligations: no, all partners commit themselves the results of what Sapiens produces, and will implement it in their daily practice. We believe it is crucial that it really happens. That is why we also involve society, with the exhibition, public programming and with the broadcaster. We can go far with science , but we need the practice and different behavior of everyone involved to make it happen ”.

Young people up to 30 years old

The initiators want to collaborate with leading NGOs, the business community, national and regional governments and other knowledge institutions. On the website you can sign up to participate.

Sapiens will soon be largely run by young people up to 30 years old. In the workshop we find young academics and young professionals from the government, the business community, NGOs and the creative sector. They start projects that governments and companies can link up with, inject their innovations, concepts and system interventions into organizations and new start-ups and encourage a large audience to change behavior in order to restore the balance between man and nature. It will be a place where everyone can reflect on his or her role on earth and can contribute to the preservation of our planet.

Sapiens will be located in the Valley, a building with a rocky design by MVRDV architect Winy Maas and landscape architect Piet Oudalf. The fully sustainable building is very energy efficient: it generates even more energy annually than it consumes.

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24 September 2020

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