‘Iedereen Gidst’ walk in Neerpede, 20 April 2023, Bob van Mol

Between three creeks and valleys, between meadows and concrete, between traditions and innovation, outside the Brussels ring road, but in the Brussels Region, just beyond the Pajottenland, lies Neerpede. It is a rural area where people have been fighting to protect its open space, nature, and agriculture since the 1970s, where the Lands of Neerpede are known as a landscape of salt marshes and creek valleys, as the last piece of a rural Brussels. Together with Bruxelles Environnement/Brussel Leefmilieu and RUCOLA, we are exploring how to bring together existing initiatives into a local coalition for "the Lands of Neerpede" for the coming two years.

A place where farmers farm, sheep graze, hikers stroll, sports enthusiasts stretch their legs, people live and recover – it is time not only to celebrate the Land of Neerpede and its values, but also to strengthen them.

The aim of the project is to create a strong local coalition that represents, protects, and further develops the Lands of Neerpede and their qualities. In this way, it can continue to grow into an exemplary area in terms of landscape, agro-ecology, respectful recreation, and tourism.

This ambition will best be realised if it is taken on by not just one person, but by a coalition of organisations. We are setting up a local coalition that is familiar with the local stakeholders, that supports, connects and mobilises them, and that represents the Lands of Neerpede from a collective and supported perspective. This coalition can only come into its own from if it is based on a collaboration between existing actors in the area, from ‘the ground’.

On 20 and 22 April, we did a first exploration into the design of a coalition. We held two guided walks through Neerpede, in which all participants were our guides, both people who have been active in Neerpede for years as well as newer actors in the area. Residents, farmers, local entrepreneurs, civic organisations, municipal employees, policymakers working on water and people in the care sector: every guide was heard. From these walks, we could already tell the need for connection between the northern and southern parts of the Lands of Neerpede, cooperation between existing actors and old and new residents. We tightened our walking shoes and through a few raindrops we could already have a first taste of a collaborative Lands of Neerpede as a binding element, towards a caring future, for resident and visitor alike.

In the coming weeks, we will remain in the investigative phase of the project, drawing inspiration from other cooperative area alliances, close by and abroad. We will mirror their operations and experiences against the needs and wishes for the Lands of Neerpede.

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6. Mar 2024


From 15 to 24 March, the Flanders Technology and Innovation Festival will take place. At several locations in Flanders and Brussels, technological and social innovators will pitch their tents to share their vision of the future with the general public. As innovation house for transformation, we are happy to make our contribution to this.  → more