International UN delegation celebrates 5 years of CIFAL Flanders in Brussels

More than 150 guests attended the lustrum celebration of CIFAL Flanders in the Flemish Parliament in Brussels. CIFAL Flanders is the organisation offering training courses on the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations to Flemish companies, universities, NGOs and governments. Peter Wollaert, Managing Director: “In five years’ time more than 12,600 people took part in our training courses, workshops and events. We see the interest in the Sustainable Development Goals increasing year by year. Meanwhile we are expanding our activities abroad.”

Important visitors were spotted at the Flemish Parliament for the fifth anniversary of CIFAL Flanders: the United Nations were represented by Assistant Secretary-General Nikhil Seth and Alexander Mejia, head of the CIFAL Global Network and director at UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research). They were welcomed by Jan Peumans, chairman of the Flemish Parliament, and Ari Epstein, chair of CIFAL Flanders.

Nikhil Seth: “CIFAL Flanders has done a great job. Thanks to their efforts the Sustainable Development Goals are on the agenda in Belgium. But we must continue and increase our efforts to persuade entrepreneurs to cooperate. Doing business in a sustainable, responsible way is good for society, good for the economy and for the environment and it is good for the bottom line. Looking at these issues in a much more open and frank way, will help businesses benefit from the SDGs more than they ever imagined.”

21 training partners received a UNITAR Certificate

During the celebration on November 19th, 21 training partners of CIFAL Flanders received a UNITAR certificate. From now on they are SDG Pioneers because they successfully completed the training programme ‘Start to SDG’. Among the 21 partners* were AWDC, Argenta Bank & Verzekeringen, Brussels Airport, Colruyt Group, the province of East Flanders, the city of Antwerp, Hasselt University and the Flemish government. The partners commit themselves to promote the Sustainable Development Goals and to put them into practice.

Peter Wollaert: “We are pleased to be able to award the UNITAR Certificate to 21 partners for the first time. But our job is not finished yet. We are continuing our efforts to convince and train more companies, universities, NGOs and governments to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals. And in 2018 we started offering our expertise to foreign partners too, which has already led to training courses in the Netherlands.”

What did CIFAL Flanders realize in five years’ time?

In the last 5 years, CIFAL Flanders has organised 314 training events, reaching a total of 12,644 people. These courses were given in various sectors such as academics (University of Antwerp), UN organisations (UNRIC), the private sector (AWDC), trade unions (ACLVB), local authorities (City of Antwerp) and the Flemish Government.

Next to this the training centre has made the Sustainable Development Goals more widely known through other initiatives. For example, SDG Infosheets are published every quarter and the Handbook on Sustainability of International Business was created in collaboration with Flanders Investment and Trade. Recently the first Belgian SDG Barometer was released, a study performed by Antwerp Management School, the University of Antwerp and Louvain Management School.

Prof. dr. Wayne Visser (AMS): “The SDG Barometer examined what companies and other organisations know about the SDGs and what they do about it. We found out they are taking it quite seriously. The main driver is that it’s good for reputation and a social license to operate. And entrepreneurs see the SDGs as a forerunner of new legislation to come. There is still a long way to go, but the results seem to indicate that Belgian organisations are pioneers in the field of sustainable development, because their scores are above the average of similar international research.”

About CIFAL Flanders

CIFAL Flanders was founded in 2013 by UNITAR, the Geneva-based training and research institute of the United Nations, as a training centre with a focus on sustainable development. CIFAL Flanders, with its headquarters in Antwerp, is part of the extensive CIFAL Global Network, which counts 16 training centres.

* List of CIFAL Flanders training partners that received the UNITAR ‘SDG Pioneer’ Certificates:

Antwerp Management School (AMS)
Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC)
Argenta Bank en Verzekeringen
Blue Gate Antwerp
Brussels Airport Company
Colruyt Group
Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce
Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT)
Port of Antwerp
Het Facilitair Bedrijf
Instituut voor Landbouw- en Visserijonderzoek (ILVO)
Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen
Stad Antwerpen | City of Antwerp
University of Antwerp
Hasselt University
Vlaams Instituut voor Technologisch Onderzoek (VITO)
Flemish Government
Voka Kamers van Koophandel

Watch our aftermovie



Mr. Jan Peumans, President of the Flemish Parliament

Keynote Speaker

Mr. Nikhil Seth, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)

Training for Impact: 15 Years CIFAL Global Network

Mr. Alexander A. Mejia, Director Division for People and Social Inclusion UNITAR and Head CIFAL Global Network

Panel Debate on Localising the Sustainable Development Goals

Ms. Mieck Vos, General Director of Association of Flemish Cities and Towns (VVSG)

Prof. Wayne Visser, Professor of Integrated Value and Holder of the Chair in Sustainable Transformation Antwerp Management School

Mr. Hugo von Meijenfeldt, SDG Coordinator in the Netherlands

Moderator: Mr. Peter Wollaert, UNITAR Fellow and Managing Director CIFAL Flanders

Closing Remarks

Mr. Ari Epstein, CEO Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) and President of CIFAL Flanders

And also:

Preview CIFAL Flanders Impact Report 2013-2018

UNITAR ‘Start to SDG’ Certificates Award Ceremony

Unique SDG Dance Performance by dancing school Movimento

Networking drink at 19h00

CIFAL Global Network Annual Meeting, 19 November 2018
Olivia Droeshaut © DYOD


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