Mpact and the Sustainable Development Goals
“Selling the ‘why’ is more important than the ‘what’”. This is what you learn at any marketing class nowadays. Following this trend, it is more important than ever to share with others why we are developing shared mobility solutions and why we are innovating and creating awareness every day.
The ‘why’ of Mpact is clear: we want to create a more efficient transport system, accessible for everyone. We believe that we can “do more with less”: less energy consumption, emissions, congestion, costs; more public space, cohesion, savings and fun. This mission statement is the main driver of every Mpact team member, but how understandable and motivating is our ‘why’ to non-Mpact employees, or non-transport experts? Is it teasing for young people? For elderly? For people living in poverty? For car lovers? For people living in rural areas? For people living outside of Belgium? How universal is our mission statement?
The Sustainable Development Goals are a handy tool to answer this question. The 17 goals are the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. A blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future. So, if we can link our ‘why’ to the 17 SDGs, it becomes universal.
As you can see in this poster, there are 17 SDGs. We don’t need to play an SDG bingo to determine which of them are most relevant to us. We’ve made the following selection of 6:
SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
At Mpact, we apply a certain hierarchy to transport modes: active travel by foot or bicycle comes first, followed by collective transport and car/ride sharing. So even though we ourselves work on promoting shared mobility, we always look to connect it with sustainable mobility modes. Our cambio members (station-based carsharing) for example, walk and cycle more after becoming members.
In 2017, we started to promote mobihubs: local hubs connecting different modes of transport. From the beginning, we defined the concept as a node for shared mobility, public transport and cycling. We also created a structural partnership with the pedestrian’s association to focus on the walkability and quality of the public space surrounding the mobihubs. We invest in these modes because they contribute to public health and to the accessibility of our cities. They also improve public participation of elderly people, wheelchair users and other people with reduced mobility.
We do something more for people with limited mobility: one of the main services of Mpact is Mobitwin, an on-demand transport service for people who are less mobile. Our 41.000 members are mainly elderly, the average age is 85 years. Our community of 3.000 voluntary drivers offers rides with their private cars. This service is more than transport. It’s a tool against the social isolation of elderly. It’s a tool for the well-being of an ageing society.
SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Mpact was launched already in 1975. Innovation is the reason why we are still strong and resilient in a new market with many sharing economy platforms and with a new role for the traditional automotive industry. Mpact organises its work around three pillars: concrete solutions, innovation and awareness raising. We are a pioneer in the sharing economy but remain innovative to this day, creating tools for new target groups. Our focus is not only on technological innovation, but also on social innovation.
Today we have two main domains of innovation:
- Digital and physical connectivity: we find ways to connect different transport modes with each other.
- As part of this strategy, we promote mobihubs in Belgium and beyond.
- The digital part of mobihubs is closely linked to MaaS (Mobility-as-a-Service) development. Mpact is a partner of the first MaaS platform in Belgium, Olympus Mobility. We recently integrated our carpool matching tool in this MaaS platform. This might seem simple, but connecting a peer-to-peer service to other transport data is complicated.
- Besides our own tools, we contribute to the Dutch TOMP-API, a standard for connecting different transport modes to a MaaS platform and the French RDEX, an interchange standard for carpool rides.
- Making digital tools more inclusive: Mpact was the first organisation to use Mobility-as-a-Service for a specific purpose: Accessibility-as-a-Service.
- We started with pilots to offer a transport budget for people with all kinds of mobility handicaps (money, language, digital skills) to access the job market. This pilot has led to a partnership between Olympus Mobility and the Flemish job agency VDAB.
- Via Mobitwin we create hybrid tools for the ageing society: traditional phone calls and apps for each type of need.
Mpact doesn’t only innovate on its own. We stimulate mobility innovation in Belgium via our youth platform “A Tribe Called Transport”. We believe that innovation can lead to more efficient and accessible transport, but we also try to stimulate local innovation. A mobility market with different local players is more resilient, gives more local return and pays more attention to the quality of jobs related to passenger mobility.
SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
In 2002 we initiated cambio carsharing in Belgium. The impact of cambio in the urban environment is huge: (https://www.cambio.be/nl-vla/onze-impact). A cambio car replaces 15 private cars: 9 cars will be discarded and 6 will not be purchased, in exchange there will be 1 cambio shared car. More than 1.500 cambio cars in Belgium are replacing more than 20.000 cars in our cities or 39 football pitches. So, Mpact offers our cities a nice present in the form of public space: more space for walking, cycling, playing, bike-parking, green and blue space, …
And it’s not only cambio: our community-based vehicle sharing service Cozywheels is a space conqueror too. Every summer in Brussels, Mpact inspires about how public space can be organised differently, and brings local communities together at 24 m² spots, equaling the three parking lots you save by sharing a car with your community.
SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Mpact stands for a different way of consuming goods. On top of the zero waste pyramid there is “refusing” and “reducing”. Sharing cars and rides is a strategy to refuse the purchase of a car and to reduce the number of car journeys, with an impact on congestion and energy consumption.
Car-sharers are even consuming transport more rationally than car owners. For every journey, they think about the most appropriate way of travel, often resulting in skipping the car trip by going to more local shops. Overall, they’ll more often choose sustainable transport modes instead of a car trip.
SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Climate change will be the main challenge for the planet and our society in the next years and decades. Mpact is aware of the urgency, not only for our own region, but even more for people living in countries that are hit much harder by climate change.
We take the necessary steps to make the shift from carbon-powered transport to electric mobility. Step by step we are renewing our carsharing fleet and integrating electric vehicles in our mobihub development.
But much more important is the work we do in changing the transport system. By developing shared mobility modes and connecting them with public transport and active travelling, we have a much bigger impact than with just the shift from traditional cars to electric vehicles. This vision is not only reflected in the services we offer, but is also part of our awareness building activities towards transport planners and public authorities.
SDG 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
We have so many ideas, so much ambition. But we know that we cannot succeed without building partnerships to achieve our goals.
Collaboration is one of our key values.
We are a partner and co-founder of the Flemish Network for Sustainable Transport (Netwerk Duurzame Mobiliteit). We have launched cambio carsharing and built a shareholdership with the three regional public transport operators, the national railway organisation and mobility organisation VAB. Together with Autodelen.net, the Flemish carsharing association and Infopunt Publieke Ruimte, the Flemish pedestrian’s association, we have launched the mobihub association (Mobipunt vzw).
We are one of the leading partners of the Green Deal Shared Mobility in Flanders, a partnership with more than 100 cities, associations, research institutions and enterprises to boost shared mobility in Flanders. We work together with more than 200 municipalities in Belgium to support elderly people for their transport needs. We are working together with partners in the surrounding countries to exchange experiences, to inspire and to get inspired.
And Shared Mobility Rocks, organised for the third time in March of 2021 in partnership with Autodelen.net, was a collaboration with like-minded organisations from every continent. We organised sessions for participants from 70 countries. The sessions in return were organised by partners from Chicago, Leeds, Lima, Melbourne, Tokyo, Phnom Penh, Kampala and Lviv.
The SDGs are a blueprint for peace and prosperity, for people and the planet, now and in the future. This is how Mpact contributes to their realisation, making our ‘why’ a big fat ‘WHY’.