Dirk van der Ven joined World of Walas in 2011. He says “it was a revelation to discover that cities are not about buildings and infrastructure, but about people and their wellbeing”. In this way, he also came to know a few new teachers, including Umberto Eco, Jan Pen, Jan Tinbergen, Hernando de Soto and last but not least Jane Jacobs.
Dirk has experienced the complexity and difficulty of working on sustainable urban development. He has also come to the realization that the important things in life and ethics are not always the first priority. We stand at an epic crossroad, maybe the most important one ever in the existence of mankind. It is evident that we all need radical changes and a new course towards sustainable urban development:
“…sustainable urban development, rethinking the way we build, manage, and live in cities through drawing together cooperation with committed partners, relevant stakeholders, and urban actors at all levels of government as well as the private sector.” – Text from The New Urban Agenda
Through his work with Walas, Dirk also gets to work with the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto. This document combines the principles of the Earth Charter with the important tools for urban sustainability learned from Jane Jacobs and the principles of placemaking and fair business. And cities play a crucial role in the global wellbeing of both people and Earth.
Dirk himself is quite optimistic about the future and sees it as his calling to contribute to sincere and sustainable cities by collaborating with those close to him.