The European Sustainability Award aims to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals in the European Union by giving a human face to the efforts and creativity of European people, businesses and organizations, which are turning the global sustainable development goals into concrete solutions and opportunities.

On 8 April 2019, the Commission handed seven awards for seven creative and inspiring stories of European people, businesses and organisations who work towards contributing to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on its three main dimensions: environmental, economic and social.

For the 2019 awards, the call for submissions opened in June 2018 and closed in September. The 148 applications from 24 Member States were inspired by the theme ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’ adopted for the 2019 UN High Level Political Forum. The theme related to a cluster of SDGs: SDG 4 on quality education, SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth, SDG 10 on reduced inequalities, SDG 13 on climate action, SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions and SDG 17 on partnership for the goals.

‘Ghajn – Malta National Water Conservation Awareness Centre’, by the Energy and Water Agency (Malta)

The National Water Conservation Awareness Centre (GHAJN) aims to raise awareness on the challenges faced by the water sector in the Maltese islands within a broad context of sustainable water resources management.  GHAJN addresses these important challenges and advises visitors on how their actions contribute to the improvement of sustainable water management in Malta. In order to inform people on water conservation in a fun and informal way, the Centre uses innovative educational tools such as audio-visual presentations, augmented reality and interactive games. Furthermore, the Centre itself is equipped with energy and water use-facilities to provide a concrete example to its visitors.  The role of GHAJN is to transform commitment into action using its knowledge to promote and encourage more actions.

‘The Development and Sustainability Agenda and the barkraft.ax Initiative’ by the Government of Åland (Finland)

With the understanding that nature constitutes the foundation of human existence, the Parliament of Åland and Åland Government, in Finland, chose to adopt a goal of total sustainable development in Åland. A network, created for and consisting of citizens, organisations, authorities and companies, established the Development and Sustainability Agenda for Åland. The agenda includes one Vision and seven Strategic Development Goals for 2030. The Agenda has been adopted by the Parliament and integrated into governmental budgeting. Thanks to meaningful actions in everyone’s daily life as well as in the working practices of all sectors of society, we strive to realise our vision: Everyone can flourish in a viable society on the Islands of Peace. Read more: www.barkraft.ax/english.

Small and medium-sized enterprises

‘WorkShop Ricostruzione’ by Mario Cucinella Architects (Italy))

Between the 20th and the 29th of May 2012, two seismic episodes hit the territories of the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the most relevant and variegate forces of the civil society merged their efforts towards a shared purpose: to make the territory stronger and more attractive, building small facilities to keep the centers alive. The plan was to design spaces dedicated to the different stages of human life: childhood, youth and old age, a new way of looking at the future, reinforcing social cohesion through an intergenerational strategy. The experienced and the young professionals who shared the design phase and the 18 contractors that constructed the buildings were chosen according to their proximity to the area. Mario Cucinella Architects coordinated the work of architects and engineers who were selected through an open call. ‘WorkShop Ricostruzione’ has been able to keep a dialogue with the communities going during the entire process.

Large enterprises

‘EcoFarm at PAPREC Agro’ by PAPREC Group (France)

Paprec has developed an agroforestry project that aims to demonstrate that agriculture can be high-yield, local and eco-friendly, while helping fight climate change by increasing the amount of carbon stored in the soil. In 2014, Paprec Agro established an agroforestry initiative that associates field crops, in particular corn, with trees (250 fruit trees and 250 forest trees) – as well as associating cattle breeding with grazing with Highland cows. The garden market is managed by two farmers who were provided land and a greenhouse by Paprec Agro. About 70% of their vegetables – potatoes, lettuce, mangetout and more – are purchased by the recycling company and prepared by a social enterprise. The remaining 30% are allocated to local municipalities. Both activities use the compost made nearby from organic waste.

Civil society/Non-profit organisations projects inside the EU

‘In action for a better world’ by Quality Net Work (Greece)

The ‘In action for a better world’ initiative, powered by QualityNet Foundation, aims to raise awareness and mobilise the Greek school community as well as families and local communities to create engagement towards Sustainable Development Goals. It consists of an Educational Program supporting the creation of the ‘Active Citizens of Tomorrow’ and the ‘Bravo Schools’ competition, highlighting the most integrated educational approaches to social and environmental responsibility, and the ‘local engagement program’, committing to the delivery of local activation plans and creating the SDG Schools and City Clubs.

Civil society/ Non-profit organisations projects outside the EU

‘GoTeach’ by SOS Children’s Villages International (Austria)

GoTeach focuses on empowering vulnerable young people and providing them with the necessary experience and self-confidence to build stable and independent adult lives. Developed in 2011 by SOS Children’s Villages and Deutsche Post DHL Group, the GoTeach project fosters a strong collaboration between the non-profit and corporate sector in the shared goal of enabling young people to successfully transition from school to a decent job. Through various activities, young people expand their social and professional networks, develop a career plan, gain their first work experience, build self-confidence and improve on valuable skills while simultaneously contributing to the SDGs.

Youth organisations

‘Green steps’ by Teatro Metaphora (Portugal)

“Green Steps” is the Teatro Metaphora’s initiative that aims to raise awareness on environmental issues. It consists in using trash and transforming it into art pieces, which are then exhibited in the city of Câmara de Lobos, on Madeira island, Portugal. Besides the visual impact, this project promotes the sustainable use of resources and encourages the reuse of materials. The results have been very much appreciated, not only by the local community but also at an international level. Every year, over several months, young volunteers without any artistic training are guided by Teatro Metaphora to explore their creativity, which turns into an excellent opportunity to promote inclusion and active participation.

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