What are the SDGs? What did the City of Ghent do as SDG Voice in 2017? How does Ghent implement the SDGs? You can find it out here.

1. General information on SDGs

2. The City of Ghent and the SDGs

3. The City of Ghent as SDG Voice

4. Ghent heroes of the SDGs

1. SDGs - General information

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.

Further reading:

2. The city of Ghent and the SDGs

In collaboration with numerous partners, the City and OCMW Ghent contribute to the recognition of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Some examples are:

3. 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.

Ghent received the UN Sustainable Development Goal Action Award in the communication category for its communication campaign. Out of more than 740 applications from 125 different countries around the world, Ghent was praised for its successful campaign 'SDG Challenges'. In this video you can find out more about the UN Action Award: 


Read more about the five city challenges.

4. Ghent heroes of the SDGs

During the Week of Sustainable municipalities, organised by the Flemish Federation of Cities and Municipalities (VVSG) between 18 and 25 September 2018, the City of Ghent turned the spotlight on 17 bottom-up sustainability initiatives: 

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty: NGO Movement of People with Low Income and Children / Beweging van Mensen met een Laag Inkomen en Kinderen vzw and NGO Kras
    Over 35 years, NGO Movement of People with Low Income and Children sets up dialogues with people in poverty, giving them a voice through sharing their individual stories. Also NGO KRAS is committed to supporting and strengthening people in poverty. This way, both NGOs furthers social change at the local ground. 
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger: Foodsavers
    Foodsavers is a joint project of the Social Economy Service and City of Ghent. Its aim is to enhance sustainability, reduce poverty and activate vulnerable unemployed citizens. In 2017, about 300 tonnes of food surpluses were collected and redistributed to social organisations, reaching 18,971 people in poverty. In the Foodsavers project, 12 to 20 employees are permanently trained for the logistics and transport sector.
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being: NGO De Fontein
    This NGO, part of the Order of Malta operates as a 'house of hygiene', offering people in need and homeless a warm welcome, listening ear, soup, shower and first aid
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education: Sustainability Office University Ghent / Duurzaamheidskantoor UGent 
    In this office, committed students and staff members cooperate on sustainable education and a sustainable organisation. 
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality: Çavaria
    With its more than 120 member associations and the provincial rainbow houses, çavaria strives for equal rights and opportunities for LGBT people. The organisation also developed a brochure and training courses on LGTB-inclusion in relation to the SDGs. 
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation: NGO Protos
    Protos NGO is committed to giving more people access to drinking water, sanitation and water for agriculture. They are engaged both locally in Ghent and in the Global South. 
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy: EnerGent
    EnerGent unites citizens in their efforts towards a sustainable and climate-neutral society, by investing in renewable energy projects (e.g. Ghent SunCity), the realisation of energy savings and the provision of energy services (e.g. Wijkwerf, on renovation and better isolation).
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth: Fair Fashion pioneers
    The Ghent Fair Fashion pioneers are the many local traders who value fair trade and do not sell products made in unfair circumstances. They are part of Ghent Fair Trade. 
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: Greentrack Gent 
    The 54 cultural organisations in the Greentrack Ghent network collaborate on a sustainable cultural sector and society. In terms of infrastructure, for example, the Ghent Design Museum, S.M.A.K., Huis Van Alijn, MSK and MIAT annually save 365,000 kWh - or the annual electricity consumption of 105 families – through a relighting programme.
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities: Refu Interim
    Refu Interim supports newcomers inclusion in Ghent, by helping them with finding a job as volunteer within the broad social and cultural sector in the city. 
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities: Op Wielekes
    The initiative Op Wielekes focuses on sustainable innovative mobility in the City and, among other things, developed the bicycle sharing system, allowing children to exchange their bicycles for a new one when they have grown out of their bike.
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production: May, Plastic-Free 
    This citizens' initiative makes young and old aware of the excessive plastic use in our society with numerous activities and useful tips.
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action: Geveltuinbrigade
    This brigade of the Ghent Environmental Front (GMF), a citizens initiative, creates small gardens at people’s front door.
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water: DoKano 
    DOKano encourages people to collect garbage from the Ghent waterways. For example, you can go canoeing for free on Sundays in exchange for a bucket of garbage from the water. 
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land: Natuurpunt Gent 
    Natuurpunt is an NGO that ensures the protection of vulnerable and endangered nature in Flanders. The Ghent department contributes to many initiatives on Ghent’s land. Natuurpunt is an NGO that ensures the protection of vulnerable and endangered nature in Flanders. The Ghent department contributes to many initiatives on Ghent’s land. 
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: NGO Peace 
    This Ghent association has been known as a mediator for peace for years and won, as part of ICAN, the Nobel Prize in 2017 for their fight against nuclear weapons.
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals: Global South Solidarity  
    The many organisations that participate in GO NZ (the consultation platform of the Ghent North-South midfield) and STANZ (Ghent’s official North-South advisory council) act as interlocutor for the Ghent’s local Global South policy.




The 17 Ghentian heroes