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Focus: encouraging the voluntary initiatives of citizens and other actors
Although environmental problems are usually tackled comprehensively, it is also possible to take action on a daily basis and at the level of one's own immediate environment, via small gestures which make a difference, or individual projects, but also by participating in various collective projects or dynamics which are closely or loosely monitored by Brussels Environment.
From small acorns, large oak trees grow. Although environmental problems are usually tackled comprehensively, it is also possible to take action on a daily basis and at the level of one's own immediate environment, to improve the quality of life in the city and benefit from a neighbourhood where it feels good to live! This daily involvement can be done via small gestures which make a difference, or individual projects, but also by participating in training sessions for example. (more info… ; in French)
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… And collective initiatives
Various calls for projects are regularly launched by Brussels Environment, with the aim of improving the quality of life in a given neighbourhood, or providing interesting opportunities at the environmental level (waste management, short production chains for fruit and vegetables, etc.), for the benefit of Brussels inhabitants... but also to create dynamics and enhance conviviality. Among these, in 2015:
The citizen sustainable neighbourhoods
Since 2008, residents of various Brussels neighbourhoods have gradually become involved in the citizen sustainable neighbourhood initiative. The principle is simple: mobilise together, in one's neighbourhood, to identify what needs to be done and develop specific projects for the benefit of life quality.
(More info… ; in French)
Collective vegetable gardens
A collective vegetable garden in the city is a haven of greenery, a place where nature rules the roost, and where everyone feels good! Growing fruit and vegetables is of course an important objective, but so is the creation of a convivial area and a dynamic collective management of the project.
In a city such as Brussels, not every inhabitant has access to a terrace or garden to be able to compost their bio-waste. As such, more and more neighbourhoods are organising collective composts, which are situated in parks or on municipal land: it's a great opportunity to recover mould which is 100% natural, and to take part in a convivial neighbourhood project.
The "Quartiers Verts" (Green Neighbourhoods) operation
There's nothing like a bit of greenery to make the city more attractive! It is also good for the morale and for the biodiversity.. and a great opportunity to meet people in the neighbourhood. Since 2001, more than 150 greenery initiatives in neighbourhoods have been realised thanks to "Quartiers Verts" (green neighbourhoods) initiatives by the "Inter-Environnement Bruxelles" non-profit association, with the support of Brussels Environment.
In addition to projects which enable Brussels inhabitants to get involved directly, Brussels Environment also offers training and coordination, with the aim of establishing volunteer networks:
The networks of volunteer masters
To help Brussels inhabitants start a compost or grow their own fruit and vegetables, the Master Composters and Master Gardeners networks were introduced, in 1998 and 2011 respectively. Run by professionals, these networks now have many members who have followed specific training, and who share their passion and knowledge with Brussels inhabitants for free (individually or in groups).
Other calls for projects have also been put in place, intended for other bodies, such as municipalities, the CPAS (Public Social Assistance Centres), schools, associations and even private organisations. For example:
Agenda 21 for municipalities
The local Agenda 21s consist of specific action plans for sustainable development. The local authorities can commit to act by taking specific actions on their level, in particular via a mobilising approach among co-citizens.
"Make people aware and take action to improve the environment", is an important concept, from an early age. Since 2012, educational initiatives organised by schools have been supported by Brussels Environment through guidance and financial support. These projects fall within various areas (food, waste, noise and energy), and have the aim of increasing awareness among the school community and improving the environmental management of the selected subject within the school establishment.
Calls for themed projects, in the context of environmental plans
Various other calls for themed projects also exist, which are open to Brussels inhabitants but also (and most importantly in practice) for municipalities, associations or professionals. These relate to various topics, such as sustainable food, food packaging, packaging in shops, or waste prevention.
But also involvement in strategic thinking!
The development of green spaces or recreational spaces
A participatory approach has been put in place in the context of various development projects for green spaces and recreational spaces in the Brussels Region (parckfarm in the Tour & Taxis park, the "Quai des matériaux", the Botanique playground, Ten Bosch park, etc.). The Objective? To develop an 'involvement dynamic' among local and regional actors in the co-creation and preservation of developed spaces, or identify the possible needs and uses of the space with associations and future users.
The aim of a public survey is to inform the population about any project which is likely to have consequences within the neighbourhood or the city, and to give them the possibility to react. It may concern various types of projects, at varying levels, from the environmental permit of a classified installation to a draft environmental plan (in which case it will be specially announced in the news section of the Brussels Environment website, and on municipal websites).