Marco Ubeda: Making mobility more sustainable

Marco Ubeda: Making mobility more sustainable

“The most useful part of the Nudge programme is that it’s organised around your impact plan. This ensures that you have to put an idea into action.”

We interviewed Marco Ubeda, participant of the 2020 Challenge, at our Amsterdam office about his impact plan and his experience with the Challenge! 

Who are you?

My name is Marco Ubeda. I’m from the Netherlands, and I currently live in the Hague. I’m 30 years old and I’ve worked for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management for two and a half years now. Before that, I was a consultant for about two years. I wanted to be more involved on the policy side of decision making, which is why I moved to the ministry. I don’t like to work within the ‘scope’, I want to make the scope!

Passionate about sustainable mobility

I have always liked to travel, be mobile and explore the world, like most young people. I like being able to keep the world moving, but it is not getting us closer to a better climate or a better future. This is why I decided to interview for a job at the ministry and never expected it would be this fun. I create and give advice regarding the decarbonization of transport and if the legislation passes the Parliament, then I really see the effects in the streets around me. I am actually contributing to something good. 

I think the ‘social impact’ aspect is the most difficult part about working on something which you believe in. We want to make the world more sustainable and you don’t want to make mistakes. I really aim to ensure that renewables, such as biofuels, are sustainable and contribute to our climate targets. You want to advise the right things but you are never 100% sure how your advice will turn out in 10 years. When I took this job everything became way more difficult in regards to biofuels. Now with electric cars and hydrogen, things are more complicated than two years ago, but it is also a great challenge. 

Making sustainable fuel accessible for all transport sectors

In the beginning, it was a bit of a struggle to find an idea for my impact plan. I wanted to do something more practical and totally unrelated to my work, but I couldn’t figure out what it would be. Together with my manager, we decided to work on an idea I had been thinking about for a while within the ministry, which is more of an organisational challenge. We are trying to implement the European Renewable Energy Directive (RED). Every member state can implement it with a lot of freedom. The way we have tried to achieve the targets is different from Germany, for example. In the Netherlands, we have a sort of commerce system in which you can trade certificates that stand for a certain amount of renewable energy. 

Within my organisation, for a long time, I found out that all of the efforts to make transport more sustainable focused on biofuels for road transport. However, in the last two years, other transport sectors were becoming interested as well, such as the aviation and maritime sectors. The scope of the task that we have as a ministry broadened a lot within the past two years, but we did not expand our ‘instrumentation’. We were trying to fit all sectors within one instrument, which meant that we were all competing with each other for sustainable fuel certificates, rather than having sector-specific instruments. We also lacked an organisational structure in which we would discuss the challenges and opportunities for decarbonization that are in front of us, and how our decisions would affect other transport sectors. We are all fishing in the same pond, but that’s okay. Now at least we have a platform in which we can discuss it, and we all know what the other is doing. 

What is the impact you want to make?

Personally, I want to make mobility more sustainable. Professionally,  I want to get people together and make sure we understand each other. I think that’s why I decided to make my impact plan more about setting a governance structure that will help us understand each other’s interests. I also want to accelerate the decarbonization of transport (but that’s not fully in my hands, that’s up for politics to decide).

How has the Nudge Global Impact Challenge impacted you?

In the beginning, creating the impact plan was a struggle because it puts pressure on you to start somewhere, and you don’t know where. I think the most useful part of the Nudge programme is that it’s organised around your impact plan. This ensures that you have to put an idea into action. Even if your plan fails it’s not bad to learn how to better structure your idea and try to get people involved. In the end, I learned to appreciate that more, especially when my impact plan got accepted within my work and people liked the plan.