Bruges nominated for liveable communities award

Summary

Bruges is participating in a competition for sustainable communities, hoping to gain more international recognition in the process

Mayor says making city welcoming to tourists isn’t enough

In a few weeks, representatives from Bruges will make the vast trek to Xiamen, China, to present their pitch to a jury. Their goal? To nab the prestigious International Award for Liveable Communities (LivCom) for the entire city of Bruges.

The International Awards for Liveable Communities was launched in 1997 with the objective to develop and share international best practices and create liveable communities to improve the quality of life for citizens. Since 2007, the LivCom Awards has partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme.

Participating in an international competitions like LivCom is a first for Bruges. Mayor Renaat Landuyt (SP. A) says that a change in leadership brought about the idea to participate, in the process achieving more international recognition for the medieval city.

Bruges receives four million visitors every year. But making the city welcoming to tourists is only half his job, says Landuyt. “If you want your city to be good for visitors, you have to first make sure it is good for residents, and that is what we are doing.”

Strong suit

A panel of judges reviewed the initial award submission last May and selected Bruges and 49 other cities and communities to move on to the finals, which will conclude with an awards ceremony next month. In the Whole City Awards finals, the nominated communities are divided into population categories and evaluated on six criteria, including urban landscape, arts, culture and heritage management, environmental best practices, community participation and empowerment, healthy lifestyle and strategic planning. 

We do everything we can to keep Bruges green, historical and liveable

- Renaat Landuyt

According to Landuyt, one of Bruges’ strong suits is its respect for the environment. “We have regulations that keep construction out of the city centre and do everything we can to keep it green, historical and liveable.”

In addition to the Whole City Awards, there is also an awards section for projects in three categories: built projects, natural projects and socio-economic projects. The Campus Coppens industrial park in Brasschaat, Antwerp province, entered a project in the socio-economic category.

Bruges is the fourth Flemish city to make it to the finals of the LivCom Awards. Lochristi (East Flanders), Nieuwpoort (West Flanders) and Brasschaat have all won awards in previous years. “We are the only city in our category from Europe,” says Landuyt. “If it’s a good jury, I’m sure we will win.”