Who are we?
We are Wouter and Adina Janssen-Tintea, passionate cyclists from Deventer, the Netherlands, and Sibiu, Romania. After living in the Netherlands for several decades, we moved to Șura Mare in Romania. Next to our daily activities, we started working on projects with NGO EUphemia.
“The greatest threat to our Planet is the belief that someone else will save it” - This Robert Swan quote inspired us to start the project Cycle4GlobalGoals. Especially now when there are a lot of issues that can distract us, we need to keep on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs are a set of 17 goals outlined by the United Nations aimed at improving living conditions worldwide, for example by eliminating poverty and hunger, while tackling the climate crisis.
And so Cycle4GlobalGoals unfolded an odyssey that pulsated with the scope of creating awareness of SDGs, where students from the Faculty of Economic Sciences in Sibiu and the Embassy of the Netherlands played a crucial role in promoting and reflecting the need for sustainable development. In essence, Cycle4GlobalGoals is a call to action, a testament to the belief that change begins with us, as individuals.
What does Cycle4GlobalGoals 2023 mean?
Cycle4GlobalGoals 2023 was a cycling tour from Eastern to Western Europe with a distance of 3,500 km through EuroVelo routes, across ten countries and 19 Hanseatic Cities. We tried to connect people, countries and ideas in a sportive, but above all, sustainable way. We made this connection symbolically by cycling from Sibiu to the Hanseatic City of Deventer. We feel that the 800 year-old Hanseatic mentality, ambition and guts are needed to be able to realize the SDGs.
Our tour began in the picturesque village of Sura Mare. In a symbolic gesture, we planted trees together with eager children and their dedicated schoolteachers, facilitated by the mayor of Sura Mare, Ionut Maier. As the sun cast its golden rays on the cyclists, the Sibiu Traffic Police joined the tour and guided us to the heart of Sibiu. Here, where history seemed to dance in every cobblestone, the vice-mayor of Sibiu, Corina Bokor and her colleague from Deventer, Thomas Walder, officially marked the start of this tour. After saying goodbye to family and friends we left Sibiu accompanied by a few cyclists and our assistance car driven by Paul van den Boogert and Joke Faas.
Further on, our pedals met the untouched beauty of the Parâng Mountains’ virgin forests, where we felt connected with the nature and gained strength to conquer the mountains. Descending from the mountains, we arrived in Drobeta-Turnu Severin, where the warm hospitality of the Romanian people wrapped itself around us like a comforting scarf. Thanks to the support of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Romania, and in collaboration with the mayor of Drobeta-Turnu Severin, Marius Screciu, and the NGOs Mod of Life and La pedale Drobeta, we organised a significant event to promote cycling. A broken bicycle and the broken assistance car were repaired quickly and free of charge by local people who were grateful for the mission of our tour.
Reenergising spirits on EuroVelo 6 – Atlantic - Black Sea
Cycling the trusted and well-marked routes of EuroVelo 6, we crossed into Serbia. Thanks to the Embassy of the Netherlands in Serbia and Montenegro, we met the people of Novosadska Biciklistička Inicijativa, Silosi Beograd and Čepom do Osmeha, who are characterised by their unyielding dedication to cycling, recycling and inclusivity. The Serbian determination to advance these goals was an inspiring proof of the impact of grassroots initiatives.
Vienna impressed us with an innovative project – parklets, which wove green and social threads into the urban fabric. These charming urban oases breathed life into city streets, underlining the transformative potential of sustainable urban design.
In Regensburg we arrived in the middle of an inspiring SDG week initiated by the Mayor of Regensburg, Gertrud Maltz-Schwarzfischer, and her dedicated team. The week resonated with our mission and energised our spirit as we witnessed the city's commitment to sustainability and progress.
A brush with history on EuroVelo 15 – Rhine Cycle Route
Konstanz offered us the gift of inspiring conversations with the municipality's progressive civil servants, including Martin Schröpel. Each dialogue was a precious gem in the crown of knowledge we were building. The connections formed with the city's residents who joined us along EuroVelo 15 were a testament to the power of shared dreams and collective action.
The pinnacle of our journey was in Strasbourg, where history met our efforts. A delegation from the municipality, including Yves Zimmermann and Jean-Baptiste Schiber, led by the remarkable Councilor Sophie Dupressoir, received us in one of the oldest halls of the historical town hall of Strasbourg. It was here where the foundation of the European Commission had been laid, a fitting backdrop for our mission to unite and inspire.
Cycling through Hanseatic Cities
Welcomed in Brilon by mayor Dr. Christof Bartsch and Ute Hachmann, our path diverged further into the history of Hanseatic cities. Here our bicycles received a full check-up to tackle the adventure ahead. As we traversed the Hanseatic cities of Germany and the Netherlands, history came alive beneath our wheels, connecting the dots of Europe's rich heritage in cities like Brilon, Haltern am See, Harderwijk, Kampen and Deventer. These cities are a good example of how 800 years of Hanseatic history is still closely linked to the present.
The Netherlands offered a spectacular welcome from family and friends who joined us on the bike. In Arnhem we were treated to a royal lunch and we finished this day with friends in Mill, where fireworks and champagne greeted us on arrival. In the historical city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, we were embraced with open arms by friends and the Chief of Mayoral Affairs, Jan de Wit. Further in the Hanseatic City of Harderwijk, we planted small flower gardens together with the councillor of the municipality, Martijn Pijnenburg, symbolising the growth and vitality of our mission.
We cycled along the river IJssel to take part in the IJsselbiënnale, where art, nature and culture come together. The grand finale was in Deventer. Here we were greeted with boundless love by the mayor, Ron König, together with one of the key players in the project, International Affairs Manager Nicoleta Mitut, and our steadfast partner Jan Achtereekte from the NetSib Foundation, as well as family and friends.
Some final thoughts
We would like to believe that Cycle4GlobalGoals not only raised awareness of SDGs, but also built connections, sowed seeds of change in our behaviour, advocating for a more sustainable way of living like cycling (tourism), upcycling our waste, protecting biodiversity and understanding that there is no Plan(et) B. And therefore, we hope that our story will echo through the winds of time, reminding us that change and connection can begin with a pedal and a dream…
You can find more information about Adina and Wouter's important initiative on their website, https://ngo-euphemia.eu/our-projects/cycle4globalgoals/.
Authors (text and pictures): Wouter and Adina Janssen-Tintea
Editing: Mark Sheridan