Let’s introduce: our new Board of Trustees co-chair Aniek Moonen

We warmly welcome Aniek Moonen as a new member and co-chair of the Board of Trustees at WECF! Aniek is dedicated to representing the voice of youth in the climate debate and is the former chair of the Young Climate Movement. We reflect on what initially drove her to engage in the fight against the climate crisis and look ahead to what is needed for a sustainable and just future for everyone.

When Aniek returned from her exchange program in the United States in 2019, she was certain: the time to take action against the climate crisis was now. The university in Santa Barbara where she studied is known for its environmental studies program and is simultaneously heavily affected by climate change. From extreme drought to severe wildfires and devastating mudslides, the direct consequences of climate change were palpable and deeply affected her. “Every day you wake up, and the first thing you do on your phone is not check if it’s going to rain like you do in the Netherlands, but you check how close the fires came that night,” Aniek shares.

Back in the Netherlands, she immediately became active within the board of the Jonge Klimaatbeweging (English: Young Climate Movement). The Jonge Klimaatbeweging (JKB) represents the voice of young people in the climate debate on behalf of 60 youth organizations, guided by the Jonge Klimaatagenda (English: Young Climate Agenda) – the vision of young people for 2040. “Many more people will be living in the future than have lived in the past,” says Aniek. That is why it is essential – and logical – for young people to have a role in shaping their future and that of future generations. She strongly advocates for this. Aniek started within the JKB board in a role focused on promoting sustainable business practices, then transitioned to a position dealing with the substantive aspects of the climate debate, and was subsequently ready to take on the chairmanship.

What is she most proud of in her work? “The fact that we, as the JKB, have influenced the Dutch coalition agreement,” Aniek says. “For the two years before that, we really fought hard with the politicians for both a generational test – which assesses policies based on long-term consequences – and a scientific climate council – which advises politicians on how to accelerate towards climate goals based on science.” This was also a turning point for the organization itself. “Since then, I can confidently say that we have political influence,” she says, beaming with pride.

Her passion lies in involving young people in the climate debate, but she points out that many groups are not adequately represented while being severely affected by the climate crisis. “The climate crisis itself is unjust, so climate policy must rectify that injustice.” Intersectionality is key in this regard, and Aniek explains that this approach is precisely what attracted her to WECF.

Aniek during her lecture on International Women’s Day at Leiden University, 8 March 2023

“I still notice – even after the lecture I recently gave – that for many people, it does not make a lot of sense to say that women are often both greater victims of the climate crisis and also providers of many solutions.” So, explaining this intersection is still greatly needed, also to make people realize that with this perspective, climate goals can be achieved faster. WECF plays an important role in raising awareness, according to Aniek. WECF’s international drive is also something she greatly appreciates. “Not imposing from the Netherlands what everyone abroad should do, but letting [partners] initiate and run their own projects which further local and international transitions.”

She looks forward to “working together within the Board of Trustees on a sustainable future for WECF and providing the youth perspective”. “In boardrooms, the average age is 60 plus,” Aniek says. “I am very happy that as a young person and as a young woman, I can contribute to this process.”

Welcome, Aniek!