“The majority of people around the world have an urban future. City projects therefore commit to our common future. At a time of climate change and the major upheavals it is producing, policy makers must seize the opportunities to create a city that is habitable for all. Both resilient and sustainable, the city of tomorrow is based on proximity and social mix, eco-responsible construction and new forms of mobility, individual inclusion and a sense of collective belonging. It is at the local level that the major global reforms of our lifestyles are implemented.”
– Philippe Close, Mayor of Brussels
Philippe Close became the Mayor of Brussels in July 2017 after succeeding the former mayor who stepped down. Mayor Close was officially re-elected in October 2018. He was appointed group leader of the socialist party (PS) in the regional Parliament in 2013, having chaired the Social Affairs Committee as an elected member of Parliament of the Brussels Capital Region since 2009. In order to fully devote himself to his task as mayor, he resigned from both positions. He was previously Alderman for Staff and Tourism following the 2006 municipal elections. In 2001 he joined the team of Freddy Thielemans, Mayor of the City of Brussels, as Head of Cabinet, having previously been the spokesperson of former prime minister Elio Di Rupo in 2000. Mayor Close has a law degree from the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
To meet continuing demand for housing, and in a sustainable manner, the City of Brussels is using the 2019 – 2024 Housing Plan to guide the development of 750 energy-efficient new homes. Working with the Property Management Agency and the Brussels Public Welfare Agency (CPAS) on 14 projects across the city, Brussels aims to deliver a range of properties to suit different needs, for example for people with reduced mobility, the elderly, first homes, single-parent families, large family accommodation and housing in modular homes. CPAS and the Property Management Agency focus on ensuring the social and functional mix of neighbourhoods and delivering construction and renovations that meet environmental requirements to reduce energy consumption and tenants’ bills. The projects also include urban facilities such as retail space, sports facilities, schools and childcare facilities.
Home to people of 182 nationalities, Brussels is one of the most international cities in the world. The city is committed to welcoming migrants and refugees. The city operates a reception office for migrants, called the Bapa BXL that provides a free welcome session, as part of a social policy that aims to increase their social, economic and cultural participation. Undocumented migrants, such as those arriving from Ukraine, are also offered support with finding accommodation, free medical care, employment and education. The city of Brussels has dedicated a section on its website providing information for Ukrainian refugees on how to access physical and mental healthcare, medication and where to get COVID-19 vaccines without charge.
Since 2021, Brussels has been tackling the digital divide exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing students and school pupils with a computer, on request. The program distributes reconditioned computers to facilitate access to remote classes for students in primary, secondary and higher education in Brussels. Classrooms in secondary and higher education have been equipped with videoconference technology, each student has been granted access to Smartschool and Teams, and every educational facility building in Brussels now has Wi-Fi. Mayor Close is also investing in digital skills and hiring digital instructors to teach secondary students how to use digital tools.