Discover the Vibrant Oasis of Ostend: A Seaside Resort, Trade Hub, and Renewable Energy Powerhouse


Robert Eduard Antal » Urban Innovation » Ostend Leading the Way in Sustainable Development in Belgium

Contributions and Roles of Member Cities in the Eurocities Network: Ostend, Belgium

Innovation and Sustainability

Ostend, as part of the Eurocities network, has committed to advancing sustainability and innovation within urban environments. The city focuses on reducing CO2 emissions through various initiatives and promoting green technologies that foster a healthier and more sustainable urban lifestyle.

Goals and initiatives include:

  • Implementation of renewable energy sources to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Encouraging electric and hybrid vehicle use to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Development of energy-efficient buildings to lower urban energy consumption.

Smart City Initiatives

Ostend leverages technology to address urban challenges, enhance the quality of life, and make the city smarter and more efficient. This includes innovative approaches in areas like waste management, transportation, healthcare, and public services.

Official City Website:

Examples of Smart City Projects

  • Smart Water Management: Implementing IoT devices to monitor and improve the cleanliness of local waterways.
  • Healthcare Enhancement: Using telemedicine and e-health solutions to provide remote medical services and monitoring.
  • Intelligent Traffic Systems: Deploying smart traffic lights and sensors to optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion.

Cultural and Social Projects

Ostend actively engages in cultural and social projects that aim to enrich the community and provide support for vulnerable groups. These initiatives promote inclusivity, diversity, and cultural heritage.

Examples of Cultural and Social Initiatives

  • Community Arts Programs: Organizing public art displays and workshops to engage local artists and residents.
  • Support for Vulnerable Groups: Initiatives providing housing, healthcare, and educational opportunities for homeless people and low-income families.
  • Multi-cultural Festivals: Hosting events that celebrate the diverse cultural backgrounds of Ostend’s residents.

Urban Planning and Development

Ostend is dedicated to significant urban planning and development projects to enhance livability, sustainability, and resilience against climate change. These projects aim to create a more connected, vibrant, and eco-friendly urban space.

Examples of Urban Development Projects

  • Green Infrastructure: Developing parks, green rooftops, and urban gardens to enhance urban biodiversity and provide recreational spaces.
  • Climate-Resilient Buildings: Constructing and retrofitting buildings to withstand extreme weather conditions and reduce energy consumption.
  • Public Transit Improvements: Expanding and modernizing public transportation systems to reduce car dependency and lower emissions.

Youth and Education

Ostend creates opportunities for students and young professionals by fostering a vibrant educational environment and providing resources for personal and professional growth. The city emphasizes the importance of education and youth engagement in community development.

Examples of Youth and Education Initiatives

  • STEM Programs: Offering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs in schools to inspire future innovators.
  • Youth Councils: Establishing councils that allow young residents to have a voice in municipal decision-making processes.
  • Internship and Apprenticeship Programs: Partnering with local businesses to provide hands-on experience and career development for young professionals.

Benefits of Participation in Eurocities

By being an active member of the Eurocities network, Ostend gains numerous advantages, including:

  • Access to a wide range of best practices and knowledge-sharing opportunities with other European cities.
  • Increased visibility on the European stage, enhancing its profile and attracting additional funding and resources.
  • Collaboration opportunities with other cities on large-scale projects that address common urban challenges.
  • Influence on European urban policy development, ensuring that the city’s needs and perspectives are considered at higher decision-making levels.

City Description: Ostend, Belgium


Ostend is a coastal city located in the West Flanders province of Belgium. It is situated on the North Sea, approximately 20 kilometers west of Bruges. Notable geographic features include its long sandy beaches and a harbor that opens into the sea, making it both a scenic and strategic location.


As of the most recent estimates, Ostend has a population of approximately 70,000 residents. The demographic profile reflects a diverse mix of ages, with a slight inclination towards older residents due to the city’s popularity as a retirement destination. Additionally, the city attracts a seasonal influx of tourists, which significantly swells the population during the summer months.

Economic Overview

The economy of Ostend is largely driven by tourism, thanks to its attractive coastal location. Key industries include hospitality, retail, and services catering to both tourists and locals. Fishing and seafood processing are also vital components of the local economy. The city’s GDP reflects a balanced mix of these sectors, with significant contributions from tourism-related activities.

Historical Significance

Ostend has a rich historical background dating back to the Middle Ages. It gained prominence in the 19th century as a seaside resort favored by European royalty and the bourgeoisie. During both World Wars, Ostend was a strategic location and experienced significant military activity. The city’s history is marked by its continual transformation and resilience through reconstruction periods.

Cultural Attractions

  • Mu.ZEE

    A museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art, Mu.ZEE is one of Ostend’s key cultural institutions.

  • Ostend Cultural Centre De Grote Post

    This cultural center hosts a variety of performances, including theater, dance, and music, contributing to the vibrant arts scene in Ostend.

  • Theaters and Art Galleries

    The city boasts numerous theaters and art galleries, offering a rich array of artistic expressions and performances year-round.

Education System

Ostend’s education system includes several primary and secondary schools catering to the local population. The city is also home to campuses of higher education institutions, such as VIVES University College, which offers a range of vocational and degree programs. Education in Ostend is aimed at being inclusive and comprehensive, ensuring accessibility and quality for all residents.

Transportation Infrastructure

Ostend has a well-developed transportation network. The city boasts a public transit system featuring buses and trams operated by De Lijn. The Ostend-Bruges International Airport provides connectivity to various European destinations. Moreover, Ostend is well-connected to other major Belgian cities through an extensive network of trains and highways, enhancing its accessibility and economic integration.

Urban Development Projects

Ostend is undertaking several significant urban development projects to improve infrastructure and quality of life. These include the revitalization of the waterfront area, the expansion of green spaces, and the development of new residential and commercial zones aimed at promoting sustainable growth and enhancing urban livability.

Environmental Initiatives

The city has implemented various environmental initiatives focused on sustainability and protection. These efforts include the promotion of renewable energy sources, waste reduction programs, and beach conservation projects. Ostend is also actively involved in reducing its carbon footprint and enhancing public awareness about environmental issues.

Quality of Living

Ostend offers a high quality of living, characterized by excellent healthcare facilities, a low crime rate, and an array of amenities. The city’s mild maritime climate, combined with its scenic beaches and abundant recreational opportunities, contributes to a pleasant and fulfilling lifestyle for its residents.

Quality of Life Indexes

Ostend is often ranked favorably in various quality of life indexes. These rankings reflect the city’s strong healthcare system, robust public services, and commitment to environmental sustainability. Ostend’s clean air, low noise levels, and abundant green spaces further enhance its appeal as a livable city.

Mayor Profile: Bart Tommelein


Bart Tommelein

Current Position

Mayor of Ostend, Belgium

Political Affiliation

Open VLD (Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats)


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, Artevelde University of Applied Sciences, Ghent
  • Master’s Degree in Political Science, Free University of Brussels (VUB)

Professional Background

Before becoming mayor, Bart Tommelein had a diverse career encompassing both government and private sectors:

  • Local Government: Served as a council member and alderman in Ostend, and later as a member of the Flemish Parliament.
  • Federal Government: Held the position of Secretary of State for Social Fraud and later Minister of Energy in the Belgian federal government.
  • Private Sector: Worked in communications and consulting, leveraging his background in political science and public relations.

Achievements as Mayor

Since taking office, Bart Tommelein has initiated several impactful projects and policies:

  • Environmental Sustainability: Implemented extensive recycling programs and promoted the use of renewable energy sources.
  • Urban Development: Overhauled the public transportation system and started various urban beautification projects.
  • Technological Advancements: Launched a “Smart City” initiative, incorporating tech solutions for traffic management and public safety.

Vision for the Future

Bart Tommelein’s plans for Ostend focus on multiple key areas:

  • Smart City Initiatives: Expand the use of AI and IoT technologies to improve public services and infrastructure efficiency.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 through further investments in green energy and sustainable practices.
  • Community Engagement: Increase public participation in decision-making through digital platforms and town hall meetings.

Personal Life

Outside his professional responsibilities, Bart Tommelein is an avid supporter of community and environmental activities:

  • Hobbies: Enjoys sailing, cycling, and reading historical novels.
  • Interests: Actively participates in local cultural events and heritage conservation projects.
  • Personal Commitments: Involved in local charity organizations aimed at helping underprivileged communities and promoting environmental awareness.

Awards and Honors

In recognition of his service and achievements, Bart Tommelein has received several awards:

  • Belgium’s Energy Minister of the Year: Awarded for his contributions to the nation’s energy policies.
  • Green City Award: Given by the European Union for promoting sustainable urban development in Ostend.
  • Civic Leadership Award: Recognized for his commitment to enhancing public involvement and local governance transparency.

Ostend, Flanders, Belgium: A Snapshot of Quality Living and Cost Efficiency

Quality of Life

Ostend, affectionately known as the “Queen of the Belgian Coast,” offers a high standard of living for its residents. Evaluated through various indices, the city exhibits a balanced mix of safety, healthcare, cleanliness, and transport efficiency, alongside excellent educational opportunities. Below is an insight into these facets, using data sourced from Numbeo.


Ostend scores a safety index of 69.03, suggesting that it is a relatively safe place to live. In particular, the city feels notably secure during daylight hours, making it reassuring for families and individuals alike.


The healthcare quality index in Ostend stands at 75.22. This high rating reflects the excellence of the city’s healthcare services, providing residents with robust medical facilities and prompt services that contribute significantly to their quality of life.


The pollution index in Ostend is 40.49, which indicates a lower level of pollution compared to many urban areas. This score underlines the city’s commitment to maintaining a clean environment, thus promoting healthier living conditions.


With a transport index of 72.43, Ostend’s public transportation system is efficient and reliable. The city is well-served by buses and trams, connecting key parts of the city and beyond, facilitating easy commutes for residents and visitors.


Ostend boasts significant educational institutions such as the University of Hasselt, contributing to an education index of 68.54. The presence of quality educational infrastructure means residents have access to high-standard schooling and higher education opportunities.

Cost of Living

Ostend offers an affordable cost of living compared to many other European cities. Below is a breakdown of living costs, providing a practical perspective for existing and prospective residents.


Housing in Ostend is reasonably priced. The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center is around 650€, making it accessible for both singles and small families.

Groceries and Dining

  • Monthly grocery cost for a single person: approximately 200€.
  • Average cost of a three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant: about 60€.


Average monthly utility costs for an 85m2 apartment, covering electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, come to around 160€.


A monthly public transport ticket in Ostend costs approximately 49€, offering an economical option for daily commuting within the city.


  • Monthly fitness club fee: around 29€.
  • Average cinema ticket price: approximately 10€.

Ostend within the Eurocities Network

Within the Eurocities network, Ostend thrives as a model city committed to sustainable urban living. Its dedication to improving the quality of life for its residents through balanced safety measures, efficient healthcare services, cleanliness, comprehensive transport systems, and noteworthy educational institutions sets a benchmark for other cities. Through consistent cooperation and exchange with other member cities, Ostend continues to bolster its urban policies, ensuring a thriving environment for both current and future generations.

Data Source: Numbeo

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