Over 12,000 posts about rubber granulate and RIVM appeared on social media from October through December 2016. The situation was crystal clear: many people were wondering whether it was advisable to play sports on pitches covered in rubber granulate. It was a hectic period, since a difficult and important question had to be answered within a very brief time frame.
The question extended beyond the confines of a scientific study. Accordingly, we established a consultative group that reflected Dutch society, including all the stakeholders. Respecting each party’s role and responsibilities, we continuously shared information and signals with them as they became available. This approach allowed us to respond appropriately to the pressing issues that concerned society at that time.
This example is just one of the ways that RIVM plays a relevant role in the very heart of Dutch society on a day-to-day basis. The topics we work on have an impact on people, public health, the environment, and the spaces in which people live and work. Everyone deals with these topics every day.
One of the people who had a major impact over the past year was our colleague Guus Velders. The US-based Time magazine named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people. Guus received this prominent ranking for his ground-breaking research on the climate effects of hydrofluorocarbons. This work led to the October 2016 climate agreement in Kigali. In the Kigali deal, world leaders agreed to significantly phase down the use of these specific greenhouse gases over the next few decades.
In 2017, RIVM staff members will increase contact with their social environment, the public at large, in order to intensify our role as a trusted advisor. Our aim is to be a reliable, independent advisor at the heart of Dutch society. In 2017, we aim to continue making a difference, standing strong to promote public health and safeguard environmental quality.
André van der Zande, RIVM Director-General