What are the SDGs? And what did the City of Ghent do as SDG Voice in 2017? You can find it out here.
SDGs - General info
At the end of September 2015, all 193 Heads of State and representatives of the United Nations (UN) came together to discuss the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the beginning of 2016, the 17 SDGs were launched, to be achieved by 2030. The SDGs are subdivided into 5 major themes: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. The SDGs strive for a sustainable planet without poverty through an action plan with 169 targets. In the coming years, the UN will focus on three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and ecological aspects. Because the SDGs are the result of extensive political negotiations and apply to all countries of the world, they are not perfect and not directly feasible at the local level. However, the 17 SDGs do bring the most urgent and universal needs to attention in the world today. It is up to every government, organization and individual to translate the SDGs into ambitious efforts working towards a sustainable planet.
City of Ghent as SDG Voice
Following the example of the UN ambassadorship for the SDGs of Shakira and Queen Mathilde, Minister Marie-Christine Marghem appointed eight organisations to SDG Voice on 26 September 2016. By doing this, the City of Ghent became one of the ambassadors to help announce the SDGs in Belgium. To involve as many people and cities as possible, the City of Ghent launched a communication campaign through five challenges between the end of February and September 2017. The challenges were not only to promote the SDGs, but also to encourage citizens, organisations, the business community and educational institutes to take sustainable action.
SDG challenge “days without meat” - Ghent vs. Sint-Niklaas (1/3 - 15/4/2017)
This challenge was one for food lovers. The final goal? Eradicate hunger in the world, provide food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
For a long time Ghent and Sint-Niklaas have worked intensively on sustainable food. Ghent was praised worldwide for 'Thursday Veggie Day' and with 'Ghent and Garde' it is fighting for tasty, sustainable and local food. Sint-Niklaas also turned veggie with 'Thursday Veggie City' and 'The longest Veggietable’. Ghent and Sint-Niklaas called on their citizens and employees to participate in 'Days without meat' from 1 March to 15 April 2017, an awareness campaign about the impact of our food habits on the environment. The setup was simple: eating 40 days less meat and fish and thus saving as much CO2 as possible.
795 Ghent citizens and 228 Sint-Niklaas citizens took part in the SDG challenge "Days without meat". In addition, 115 members of the City and OCMW Gent participated and 228 members of the City and OCMW Sint-Niklaas.
SDG challenge “Everybody feminist” - Ghent vs. Genk (6/3 – 21/3/2017)
This challenge focused on gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. When it comes to equal opportunities and diversity, we are on the right track in Belgium. For example, Ghent has a gender and a local LGBT policy. Genk is also working on a local equal opportunities policy with attention to gender and the LGBT community. Yet it can still be better. With the campaign "Everyone feminist" all Ghent and Genk citizens were called upon to support gender equality and empowerment for women and girls by posting a photo with the logo "Everyone feminist". This SDG challenge resulted in 646 Genk and 524 Ghent photos.
SGD challenge “Class marathon” - Ghent vs. Liège (16/5/2017)
"It takes a whole village to raise a child" and that is why the city became one big school. As a result, qualitative education and lifelong learning for everyone has been highlighted. (SDG 4). As a student city, Ghent naturally attaches great importance to this goal. Recently the Ghent Education Centre was founded, which supports, activates, inspires and connects Ghent school teams, parents, supervisors and their partners.
On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, Ghent classes broke outside the school walls. More than 1,000 children and young people(6-18 years), together with their teachers, attended lessons at no less than 84 different locations in the city.
SDG challenge “Everybody on the bike” - Ghent vs. Ostend (18/4-31/8/2017)
With the challenge "Everyone on the bike", the City of Ostend was challenged to reduce air pollution together with the City of Ghent.
In search of a worthy opponent for this SDG challenge, the Ghent city council focused its attention on Ostend. As a European Sports City 2017 Ostend, like Ghent, has an extensive cycling policy. For example, both cities signed the Charter for a Strong Bicycle Policy, the Sports Services of both cities organize cycling lessons and bicycling in the city is encouraged by lending bicycles (for example in the Ostend Bicycle Library and Ghent Bicycle Embassy). By inviting everyone from Ostend and Ghent to learn how to cycle, the SDG challenge "Everyone on the bike" emphasized the importance of the third SDG "good health and well-being for all ages". A total of 160 from Ghent and 33 people from Ostend who learned to cycle were registered.
SDG challenge “Eat massively social” - Ghent vs. Kortrijk (20/6/2017)
Under the motto "Eat massively social", Ghent challenged the city of Kortrijk to attract as many new visitors as possible to the social restaurants. Because a nice meal tastes even better when you can enjoy it together!
There are various social restaurants in Ghent as well as in Kortrijk. The menu includes tasty and healthy dishes. The rates are democratic and those who receive an increased allowance or a living wage pay a lower price.
Moreover, every meal also supports the fight against poverty. That is why this challenge was perfectly in line with SDG 1, which aims to combat poverty. This SDG challenge brought 435 Kortrijk and 1,104 Ghent eaters to the social restaurants in both cities.