“SDGs is about people, this is about leaving no one behind, about creating a world for our current generations, for our future generations.”It has to be about having a new vision, a new paradigm with implementation from all sectors. We want Europe to be leading from the front and Belgium is in a strong position to be a champion of change.” Barbara Pesce-Monteiro, United Nations Representative in Belgium urged to innovative thinking, stronger partnerships and more ambition in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Combating inequality matters and our lifestyles matter to meeting the sustainable development goals. We need a whole of society approach and the center of gravity for political innovation lies within cities and people. We have an impressive set of initiatives run by associations in Belgium that provide civic platforms between people and the government.” Olivier De Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, highlighted that we must all start changing the way we live.
On 23 November, representatives from private sector, local governments, civil society organisations and students took part in a one-day inter-ministerial conference to tackle how Belgium can implement the Agenda 2030 and oversee a truly transformative multi-stakeholder approach.
The UN SDG Action Campaign, along with the UN and UNDP in Brussels, organized an SDG Action Zone, occupying a central space to engage visitors on the Sustainable Development Goals, bring the voices of children, men a women from around the world and their needs to the center of the discussions.
In May each year, the European Institutions celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the European Union. Entertaining, informative activities are organised throughout Europe and beyond. This is an opportunity for citizens to learn about the day-to-day work of the institutions, as well as the broader issues, challenges and benefits of the European Union for its 508 million citizens. This year the European institutions opened to the public on Saturday May 6th in Brussels and Sunday May 14th in Strasbourg.
The EU Humanitarian Aid stand welcomed visitors to immerse themselves in the world of humanitarian aid and civil protection. The stand was a replica of the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, a state of the art hub where duty officers follow potentially emerging crises 24/7 with satellite images. Visitors got a chance to talk to a real duty officer. Over 12.000 visitors came to the Berlaymont building and many of them came to the stand.
The stand featured a virtual reality classroom, featuring some United Nations Virtual Reality films showing the warzone in Gaza in 2014 (My Mother’s Wing), or the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan where Sidra, a 12-year-old girl, will be your guide (Clouds Over Sidra). Children took part in a giant world map game, where they found out about where in the world EU Humanitarian Aid operates.
People were watching the films in their entirety, from beginning to end. “Awesome”, “Impressive”, “Powerful” were the adjectives used by visitors to describe the experience. Some of them, after having watched one movie came back to view the others films. The response was so high that a queue started to snake around the stand.
Images: European Commission Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations