Queen Mathilde of the Belgians has visited the University of Ghent in her role as Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Queen Mathilde exchanged views with students and academic staff on ‘Agenda 2030’ of the United Nations.
Mathilde was eager to learn more about the durability policy of the University of Ghent as she arrived at the institution on Friday. She was welcomed by the UGhent’s rector Rik Vanderwalle and the vice-rector Mieke Van Herreweghe. Queen Mathilde is very interested in the role the students and academic world play in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
After a speech by the rector on the university’s initiatives on durability and sustainable development, Queen Mathilde gave her own address:
“You, the students are essential actors of change;always motivated and with a strong voice. Young people are well aware of what is at stake in the world in which they will live as adults. You are also open to innovation. And new experiences do not scare you. You are creatively connected to the whole world through various networks. Some of you are tomorrow’s decision makers. Solidarity is not an empty concept for you. Quality education about the SDGs, also at university level, is crucial.”
After her speech, Mathilde talked to several students who have undertaken different kinds of actions to achieve the SDG’s. Queen Mathilde learned more about “the mobble”, a project of engineering students to build and renovate houses with materials that have a low impact on the environment.
Queen Mathilde was also introduced to the project “Start to talk”, an initiative by a Master’s student in EU-Studies with the aim to improve the mental health of students. Students with difficulties can come and listen and or talk to other students in group sessions.
Other projects that the royal visitor learned more about were initiatives around sustainable energy, saving water, improving the soil and so on.
Since 2015, Queen Mathilde has been one of 17 Advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Mathilde works with, among others, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden to achieve these goals by 2030. Of the 17 SDG’s, Mathilde primarily focuses on health issues and especially mental health, education and the equality of women and men.