On 24 May 2022, the Flemish Government, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), and Ghent University reaffirmed their partnership with, and commitment to, the UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) by signing a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The new MoU, which will run from 2022 to 2026, signals the partners’ belief in the necessity of international cooperation to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. The partnership will support UNU-CRIS to advance its research on the various facets of regionalism and on how multi-level governance — from the supranational down to the local — can best work together to achieve their shared goals.
Held at the Town Hall in Bruges, the ceremony brought together an audience from the Flemish community with remarks delivered by partner and government representatives. The ceremony opened with a classical guitar performance by Beatrijs Vankersschaever, music teacher at the Bruges Municipal Conservatory.
The first speech of the night came from the Mayor of Bruges, Dirk De fauw, who welcomed the guests to the historic venue and outlined the city’s pleasure at having UNU-CRIS as part of its research and educational landscape.
Mayor De fauw was followed by the Director of UNU-CRIS, Philippe De Lombaerde, who gave an overview of the 21-year history of the institute. From its beginnings as a research arm of the College of Europe, to the trilateral partnership with Ghent University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2016, to today, he noted how UNU-CRIS has evolved to become an internationally-renowned hub of knowledge and policy-relevant research, welcoming over 450 scholars from more than 70 countries to Bruges.
Next, the Governor of West Flanders, Carl Decaluwé, spoke about the province’s history as a proactive and determined hub of business, culture, learning, and innovation, and how the province is pleased to host an institute harbouring many of the same values in its capital, Bruges.
Ghent University Rector Rik Van De Walle and VUB Rector ad interim Jan Danckaert took to the podium next, sharing their belief in the power of collaboration across the various levels of the research environment, and how there is a clear necessity for supranational organisations, such as the United Nations, to work with local universities.
Via a video message, Jo Brouns — the Flemish Minister of Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture — reinforced Flanders’ commitment to research and innovation, and emphasised how the government is proud and steadfast in its investment in UNU-CRIS as a key interlocutor in the deliverance of evidence-based policy.
The audience then heard from David Malone, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Rector of UNU, who outlined the importance of collaborative research in these times of geopolitical instability, thanking the partners and the Flemish government for their support of UNU-CRIS, and sharing his belief in the institute and its ability to deliver in the next five years.
The event closed with a recital by Nina Everaert, the town poet of Damme, who shared the story of her grandmother and how that has shaped her view of the world today.
For a write-up of the ceremony with a collection of photos, visit the UNU-CRIS website.
For more information on the MoU, contact:
Andrew Dunn, Policy and Communications Officer, UNU-CRIS
Phone: +32 468 161 485 (mobile)