Who are you and what do you do?
I am Frédéric, 31 years old and born and raised in Antwerp. Over the past 12 years I have become increasingly engaged with sustainable development and transition. Before I went to Uni, I wasn't actively engaged in or strongly aware of development issues; whether local or global. A number of specific courses on this topic triggered my curiosity though. A semester abroad in Mexico and a research stay in Nicaragua further fueled this drive to think about how to do things differently. In the past I have mostly been active in academic context (with Master studies in International Development and ongoing PhD studies in Development Studies on Green Microfinance). At the moment, however, I am very pleased to also be engaged on a more practical level, as a project officer on food waste at KOMOSIE (the umbrella organisation of environmental entrepreneurs in the social economy). In that position, I can further help to develop and promote the Schenkingsbeurs (www.schenkingsbeurs.be - an online platform for food surplus donations), and to coordinate a project - de Restjesfabriek - where food waste is valorised by turning it into new products, thereby creating jobs in the social economy. I believe that both projects are a good way to contribute to the growing awareness around food waste. In combination with job creation in the social economy, there is a clear case of trying to reach social, ecological and economic objectives. I notice that clear examples like that provide a strong inspiration for people who want to see change.
What competences would make you a good Generation T?
In recent years, I have gone back and forth between research and practice, and between the more local and the more global level. In addition, I have been involved with a number of different topics: fuel poverty, microfinance, rural development, climate change, food waste...
This combination of topics, perspectives and levels of analysis provides me with a strong background to contribute to a broad range of debates and activities related to Transition. I am eager to exchange ideas with other Generation T members, and to learn from their experiences.
Give specific example(s) on how your projects or activities make a difference and initiate change.
The two projects that I am currently involved with at KOMOSIE deal with food waste. One of the projects -www.schenkingsbeurs.be- facilitates the donation of food surplus (e.g. from supermarkets) to social organisations. It has a clear impact on the recuperation of food waste, and we contribute to awareness-raising among potential food donors.
In another project, we focus more on the creation of jobs in the social economy through the valorisation of food losses into new food products. This has impact in terms of providing job opportunities and the economic valorisation of food losses.
I believe that the strength of both activities, in terms of initiating change, lies in their apparent simplicity. People can easily relate to the idea and see that there is a logical reasoning behind it. Nevertheless, much needs to be done before such valorisation of food losses becomes self-evident in practice.
In the context of my academic activities on sustainable development, the type of contribution to change would be less direct. Nevertheless, as a participant at conferences, author of articles, or researcher in the field I had the opportunity to sow some ideas which will hopefully grow to contribute to change (no matter how small). The freedom to explore ideas that are more 'out of the box' and that do not require immediate results has its advantages and disadvantages, but it is certainly absolutely necessary to show possible pathways of change that otherwise would maybe not be taken into consideration.