Proximity - Vilvoorde's campaign encouraging citizens to act

Edited on 28/04/2022

Vilvoorde is a front-runner of climate policy in Flanders, but the challenge of working with all local stakeholders is an are thats in need of improving if the municipality wants to reach its high aspirations. As a small city and organization, it is impossible to achieve the climate ambitions without the efforts of citizens, companies and organizations.

Despite many of the city's start-up participatory initiatives and the involvement of committed citizens in policy through advisory councils, the city lacks structural cooperation between different stakeholders. Due to insufficient capacity, it is extremely difficult to achieve this in a short time.

That is why the small scale action was chosen to try to bring a number of local stakeholders closer together through the Proximity competition campaign in order to be able to implement concrete innovative projects and ideas through cooperation.


  • Proximity stands for bringing together Vilvoorde citizens, associations, companies, schools and organizations to support innovative and positive initiatives and to implement them effectively.
  • Proximity is a call for projects aimed at participatory ideas that add value to the sustainable development of the city. An independent jury of experts and citizens selects the laureates who receive financial support from the city and the Proximity partners. The laureates are supported by Proximity during the mobilisation campaign.
  • Proximity stands for support by companies, entrepreneurs and traders. They are welcome to join this new collaboration and can support concrete actions by sharing their experience and competences or by taking initiative themselves.
  • Proximity is a large local mobilization campaign to bundle financial resources, materials, competencies and volunteers to realize beautiful projects together that help with the Vilvoorde of tomorrow.

Phases of the campaign

  1. Find ambassadors


An ambassador is a person or an organization that likes to promote the campaign and support the guidance of the various local projects.

In this way, an ambassador becomes a real partner of Proximity who on the one hand guides and supports the project leaders and on the other hand contributes by actively participating in the various stages. The role of the ambassador is also aimed at stimulating the relationships between the selected projects and ensuring dynamism throughout the mobilisation campaign with the aim of raising additional resources from citizens and businesses.

  1. Call for projects

Citizens are called upon to submit projects through an association. This can be an existing organization or association or this can also be a temporary association (e.g. a neighborhood or a street or a number of friends). Individual projects will not be accepted.

The call for projects is launched through the city's channels but also through the channels and the network of the ambassadors. During the car-free Sunday in 2021, this was also promoted live in collaboration with Beplanet and with a call in a promotional video (

The deadline for submitting the projects was 6 December 2021.



  1. Choice of laureates

At the beginning of 2022 , 5 candidates had submitted an admissible project proposal. On 13 January, an independent jury of experts from different perspectives was convened.

The 5 applications were screened and discussed and 2 laureates were chosen from here:

  • SAAMO: Bicycle lending and bicycle repair in bicycle hub broek district

Proposal to further develop a bicycle hub in the Broek district.

This project was chosen by the jury as the best project because it is about mobility, which is a difficult theme within transition thinking. It also covers the themes of reuse, sharing economy and participation with various stakeholders and target groups and is therefore a good answer to the Proximity objective.

  • The Hedge: education @the hedge

Making the materials more sustainable as support for the hedge's nature experience camps.

The innovation was mainly found by the jury in the fact that The Hedge works on nature experience and ecological education of children in an urban environment. The sustainability of their materials can certainly be an added value here and also ensures continued high-quality support. However, the jury was of the opinion that there were still some work points in the list of materials, but that this, under the condition to look at this critically and sustainably, was a nice project within Proximity. A further expansion and cooperation with other stakeholders or organizations is an additional asset.

The jury's choice was submitted to the policy and validated. It was even chosen to support 2 youth associations because there was a clear need for good guidance in making their activities and buildings more sustainable. The fact that they had participated in the campaign as a youth organization, who work with volunteers, was a great opportunity to continue to involve them as an example to young people. They both receive a starting budget with which they can work within their own activities.

The winners were officially announced on 16 March 2022, after which the mobilisation campaign can start.

  1. Mobilisation campaign and implementation of the projects

In the mobilisation campaign, everyone is called upon to participate in the implementation of the projects. This can be done by means of extra financial support, but also by actively cooperating or by sharing knowledge and knowhow. The laureates will be guided by Beplanet in the implementation of the project.

In this way we not only achieve real realizations, but in the process we also bring all stakeholders closer together so that a real local stakeholder network is created.

Submitted by Laura McIntosh on 28/04/2022
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Laura McIntosh

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