DELFT – The city is governed by municipal councilors elected by the inhabitants. Delft has 39 advisers, distributed as follows: STIP (6), D66 (6), GroenLinks (6), Hart voor Delft (5), VVD (3), PvdA (3), SP(2), CDA (2) , Independent Delft (2), ChristenUnie (2), Volt (2). This week a conversation with Malou Janssen; who is Malou and what does she think is important for the city?
What do you do outside of your consulting work?
Last year I joined GroenLinks and have been on the Board for a few weeks now. Very special and nice to be able to dedicate myself to the city as a councilor for the next four years. I work at the Ministry of Economy and Climate as a program manager on physical space for businesses. Space in the Netherlands is scarce and in addition to space for housing, energy and infrastructure, space is also needed for employment. Schieoevers’ plans in Delft are a good example of this: living, working, leisure and greenery are combined here. Also, I am a mother of 2 children aged 12 and 10, I like to cycle to work and I like to go for a run along the Schie.
Who is an example for you in politics?
This is Bas Eickhout, MEP and head of the GroenLinks delegation in Europe. As a climatologist and co-author of the IPCC climate reports, he found that too little was being done with all the knowledge needed to tackle the problem. “To change that, you need to be in control yourself,” says Eickhout. Not just making big plans, but putting myself to work, it inspires me to get moving myself.
Why did you choose GroenLinks?
Because of GroenLinks’ passion for making Delft truly sustainable, climate-resilient and social. Nine years ago I worked at the Home Office on the ‘zero meter’ project to retrofit existing homes into fully energy neutral homes. The first pilot projects were then delivered. Today, nine years later, zero-meter houses have yet to see the light of day on a large scale. I would like to make sure that it does not stop at good initiatives, but that energy saving measures are actually deployed. Together with the TU and with many innovative entrepreneurs, Delft has all the knowledge to make this possible.
What would you like to achieve politically?
I think it’s very important to stimulate small-scale activity and I believe that activity can really improve the quality and vibrancy of neighbourhoods. Neighborhood facilities and the neighborhood economy, such as a physiotherapist, a local supermarket, a nail salon and a hairdresser, ensure more lively neighborhoods where there is a lot going on and where there is room for creativity and chance encounters. It stimulates exchanges between different groups and functions and supports the link between manufacturing and education. On behalf of the Council, I really want to mean something to neighborhood entrepreneurs.
Moreover, we urgently need to save energy and switch to sustainable energy. For the climate first, but also to keep energy bills affordable. Today, there are still houses in Delft with a single glass and an old-fashioned geyser. Fortunately, housing associations are working to make the housing stock more sustainable. For example, the Mozartflat has recently started to be made gas-free and the houses in the Red Village have been equipped with a new heating system. We must invest now for a healthy and livable future.
What are your political axes?
Stimulate a sustainable economy. In Delft, we are lucky to have many innovative entrepreneurs and start-ups. Compared to other parts of the Netherlands, Delft has even been named the best place for entrepreneurship. I want to make an effort to make it attractive for innovative growing companies to stay in Delft and thus retain their knowledge and jobs for the city. We should also seek greater cooperation with the TU. How can we, with the university, make the city and the inhabitants benefit from new techniques and initiatives? Many facilities of TU Delft are still unused over the weekend. By combining functions, additional values can be added to the city. Perhaps the auditorium as a movie theater when there are no classes, or the shared sports facilities, making the campus a lively area on weekends. I would like to encourage the board to start discussions with TU Delft about this so that the campus grounds become a more lively space.
I think the collaboration with entrepreneurs, the university and, for example, the metropolitan region, to achieve a sustainable economy, is very important. This is why I am speaking in the Committee on the Economy, Finance and Governance.
What is a subject that is close to your heart? Where is your political passion?
A healthy living environment for everyone, now and in the future, is what matters most to me. That we will work together towards a sustainable city where it is pleasant for all inhabitants to live, work and enjoy the outdoors in a beautiful, green and healthy environment. As a councillor, I would very much like to work with citizens and entrepreneurs on this. Because space is scarce – and only getting scarcer in a growing city – we need to use space as efficiently as possible. Additional commercial space is needed to create 10,000 additional jobs by 2040.
I would like to give it a boost in the next four years. I will dedicate myself to mixing life and work, also in existing neighborhoods, to work for practically qualified people and to strengthen the innovative economy of Delft.
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