Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by M Hjälm

Expert: Marc Okhuijsen

EGCA Expert for Green Growth and Eco-innovation

EGLA Expert for Waste Management and Circular Economy

Co-founder and owner Zonnova BV

Marc is an independent consultant specialising in the application of ecological principles to spatial and energy-related initiatives for urban sustainability, with a specific focus on social relationships between partners from different sectors.

Marc runs his own company, RéciproCité and works with several different consortia, including BOnDS, a cooperative organisation he co-founded in 2013, through which specialist SMEs work together for the sustainable development and resilience of the City of Breda, Netherlands, and its surroundings. With BOnDS Marc developed the largest privately-owned crowd-funded PV solar farm in the Netherlands. Nowadays BOnDS uses its expertise far beyond the city borders.

Marc has extensive experience developing and managing EU-funded cooperation projects. These have included projects in the area of water management, suburban and rural land use, Maglev transport systems and social energy cooperatives. The most recent projects support circular economy approaches, involving symbiotic industrial energy systems in business innovation zones and the use of bi-directional shared e-cars in different European cities. With BOnDs, Marc is also an assessor for the Green Destination Award and Quality Coast Award in the south of the Netherlands and for ECOXXI with FEE International.

Marc originally studied Biology and Physical and Social Geography at Fontys University. He started his career at the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Fisheries where he worked in the late 1980s on the creation and implementation of the national and provincial structure plans for the Primary Ecological Networks (EHS and GHS) and then on the integration of urban areas into these major networks.

In 1993 Marc was appointed City Ecologist, City of Breda, later becoming Sustainability Coordinator, Head of the Department of Habitat-Environment and then Senior Strategist – Sustainable City Development until 2014. Whilst at Breda he participated in a 10-year project on the urban regeneration of the Metropolitan Municipality of Ekurhuleni, South Africa, worked for several years with the French Ministère de l’Écologie, de l’Énergie du Développement Durable et de l’Améngement du Territoire on the specification of the sustainable city in their ’Projet urbain‘ and was the main speaker at several conferences in Europe on practical approaches for sustainability in cities. Marc has an excellent overview of eco-innovation and green growth in the European context, having supported Breda’s commitment to the Aalborg Charter and later initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors.