15 November 2018

Ghent wins European sustainability award

Ghent (Belgium) was announced as the winner of the 2018 Transformative Action Award at an award ceremony held today at the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels (Belgium).

The European sustainability award, co-organised by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Basque Country, and the City of Aalborg (Denmark) and supported by the European Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank, is given to a city, region or civil society organisation, which implements the 15 pathways outlined in the Basque Declaration to bring about the socio-cultural, socio-economic, and technological transformation of their community. The actions taken are local or regional contributions to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.

"The Transformative Action Award celebrates the ambition of cities and municipalities to create sustainable communities. It sends a clear message that local democracy and citizen engagement are the driving force for a sustainable future,” said Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions.

Ghent fought off strong competition from Bologna (Italy) and Tirana (Albania) to take home the award for their transformative action, Gent en Garde, which seeks to transform the city’s local food system through participative governance models.

Deputy Mayor of Ghent Tine Heyse said: “Gent en Garde is our ambitious programme towards a more sustainable local food system. We want our food system to be local, resilient and fair. The challenge is huge and requires the commitment of many stakeholders and change at many levels. But we believe our approach is working and we will work hard to further scale this up in Ghent.

“For us this award is very important. The launch of our own local food policy has been one of our top priorities and we are very pleased to see it recognised. Gent en garde has brought significant change to our local food system: through it, we are decreasing food waste, making food procurement more sustainable, and improving access to food. I would like to underscore the importance of the Basque Declaration – it has been instrumental in guiding our sustainability ambitions," added Deputy Mayor Heyse.

“My congratulations go to Ghent for their truly innovative food project. Their action is a hands-on approach to sustainability, providing great inspiration to other cities to implement this elsewhere,” said Cor Lamers, ENVE Commission Chair and jury member.

His words were echoed by Hakan Lucius, Jury Member and Head of Civil Society Division, European Investment Bank, who said: “Congratulations to the City of Ghent for its inspirational and transformative action. Its multi-stakeholder, participative governance models, including a food policy council, have moved from launching small-scale initiatives to bringing change to the wider civil society, decreasing food waste and making food procurement more sustainable.”

Alongside receiving a trophy and the right to be called ‘Transformative Action of the year 2018’, Ghent will also receive €10,000 to help initiate further transformative actions in their city.“I hope that this money will plant the seed for new and inspiring transformative actions in the City of Ghent and am looking forward to see them grow  and watch their impact on the sustainable development of the City in the future," said Wolfgang Teubner, Jury Member and Regional Director, ICLEI Europe.

For more information about Ghent’s submission and the Transformative Action Award, click here.