Toespraak van minister van Engelshoven bij de opening van de Nederlandse inzending op de 22e Triënnale van Milaan

Toespraak van minister van Engelshoven (OCW) bij de opening van de Nederlandse inzending op de 22e Triënnale van Milaan, op 28 februari 2019.

De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

In recent weeks, thousands of students across the world have taken to the streets during school hours. To demonstrate. To demonstrate for tougher action to combat climate change and protect our natural world. Their protests filled streets and squares in Australia and the United States, in Sweden and the Netherlands.

It is a powerful signal. A signal that the consequences of human activity for our planet can no longer be dismissed as theory. They are tangible. For us, and for our children. In the words of Sir David Attenborough, at this year’s economic summit in Davos: “What we do now, and in the next few years, will profoundly affect the next few 1.000 years.”

The theme of this Triennial echoes his warning: Broken Nature – Design Takes on Human Survival. A theme that confronts us with an inconvenient truth: that our way of life is radically disrupting our natural environment. Broken Nature.

And yet there is still cause for optimism! Recovery is still possible, and design can help us achieve it: Design Takes on Human Survival.

It is no coincidence that the Dutch contribution has chosen to explore the theme of Broken Nature in terms of light and darkness. A single glance at a satellite photograph of Europe at night tells you all you need to know: the Netherlands is bathed in artificial light, 24 hours a day.

And that has consequences. The bright yellow light that fills our greenhouses brings us prosperity, but it also outshines the stars in the night sky. The blue glow of our smartphones connects us with the rest of the world, day and night, but it also robs us of our sleep.

The works that make up the Dutch contribution to this Triennial cleverly confront us not only with what design has given us, but also with the challenges ahead. And these works have shown me something else as well: that designers possess knowledge and expertise that is crucial in tackling these complex challenges.

The power of design goes beyond objects, interiors and buildings. Its power lies in offering us new perspectives and solutions to complex social issues.

We can use the power of design to bring about recovery. To restore our relationship with light and darkness, but also with the natural world around us.

Ladies and gentlemen,

You have set the bar high at this 22th Triennial. Nothing less than Human Survival is at stake.

This afternoon and in the coming year, I wish you every success and a wealth of inspiration.

Thank you.