Marjan Minnesma named Alumna of the Year

Marjan Minnesma has been declared Alumna of the Year by Utrecht University. She received the title, awarded for the first time this year, on the university’s 380th anniversary.

The jury unanimously chose Minnesma because she is regarded as a real game changer who is passionately committed to sustainability and to combating climate change.

Marjan Minnesma

Minnesma studied Philosophy and Law at Utrecht University from 1990 to 1996. She is director of Urgenda Foundation, an organisation that, together with businesses, governments, civil society and individuals, aims to accelerate sustainability in the Netherlands.

Marjan Minnesma ontvangt een kunstwerk van Marjan Oudeman.
Marjan Oudeman (right), president of the Executive Board, hands over art to Marjan Minnesma (left) in honour of the award ´Alumna of the Year'.

She was voted number one in Trouw newspaper’s sustainable top 100 in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In 2015 with Urgenda, she won the ‘Climate Case’ against the Dutch State and managed to generate considerable attention for the Climate Change Summit in Paris with ‘The Climate Miles’, her march to Paris during which several prominent people in the field of sustainability marched part of the way with her.


Through Urgenda, Marjan Minnesma has been able to bring sustainability issues and their urgency to the attention of politicians, government and the general public.

According to the jury she combines scientific knowledge with passion, strong logical and fact-based reasoning and debating skills to ensure a pointed, substantive discussion that commands a lot of respect from supporters and opponents alike.

Her inclusive and targeted way of working fits Utrecht University’s profile as a multidisciplinary university that aims to be a role model in sustainability, and where scientists from various disciplines work on high-impact, ground-breaking research.

Alumnus of the year

Alumni are an important part of the academic community. That’s why Utrecht University has established the Alumnus of the Year prize, presented annually on Anniversary Day.

For Utrecht University, an Alumnus of the Year is someone who has had an impact on his or her field and made progress within it. A truly bright mind who dares to think outside the box, is a source of inspiration for students, and provides an important contribution to social challenges.

Marjan Minnesma is the first alumna to receive the prize, and will serve as an ambassador for the university during the coming year.