Leuven, Belgium

Leuven, Belgium

Capital of the Flemish Brabant region of Belgium, Leuven is home to KU Leuven, the country’s largest university which was established in 1425. Leuven is also home to the headquarters of AB InBev. While Dutch is the dominant language of Leuven, many residents also speak French and English.

Harmful use of alcohol context

The years of health life lost—a metric discussed in HBSA’s Design and Outcome Measures for the AB InBev Global Drinking Goals Evaluation paper—in Leuven are estimated to be attributed to several elements:


Population: 100,244

Founded: September 21, 2016

Program Officer: Vacant

Number of YHL lost due to the harmful alcohol use: 1,306

Steering Committee Coordinator: Bert Smets

Percentage of total YHL


Bert Smits

Steering Committee Coordinator

See Bio

Bert Smits is the co-founder of Tweeperenboom, a cooperative with 11 associates, located at the border of Leuven city. Tweeperenboom designs and facilitates complex multi-stakeholder breakthrough projects in the field of societal transition. He previously worked as a lector and teacher in higher education institutes and is chairman of Mysterie Van Onderwijs, a platform for innovation in education, and director of Schoolmakers, a corporation supporting schools in learning and change management.

Bert has also worked for many years as an internal and external organization consultant. Above all, he’s a social entrepreneur helping governments, companies, schools and other organizations by building and facing complex transition processes. Fascinated by environments where multiple stakeholder interests play, he creates contexts aiming to develop the organization in his broader social context.

Bert obtained his master in Pedagogical Sciences with a specialization in Social Pedagogy at the KU Leuven.

Leen Peeters

City Director General Affairs

Member since 2016

Bieke Verlinden

City Alderman for Health and Welfare

Member since 2016

Cybelle Buyck

ABI Corporate Affairs Director, Europe

Member since 2017

Philippe Vandeuren

City Pilot & PMO Director

Member since 2016


Partner: Hospitality industry, City of Leuven

Project status
Experts advise that a closing hour could support and accelerate the city’s alcohol harm reduction goals. Evidence shows that, if implemented, changing of closing hours from 5:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. could result in a 5% reduction in harmful alcohol consumption. A closing hour, initiated by a cooperation of pubs and bars, already exists, including an escalation procedure for serious offenders. The city of Leuven has a tradition of supporting bottom-up initiatives rather than imposing top-down rules and wants to continue that way of working. The topic of closing hours will be integrated within the RBS program, likely in the form of a letter of intent or charter.

Partner: LOKO, Student Organization, City of Leuven, UCLL

Project status
A social norm campaign for college students that offers alternative social activities on campus during a long enough period to change behavior. The program will build on a MAF campaign from 2018 and 2019 that has helped to establish a sustainable partnership with LOKO and other organizations to collect lessons learned and to increased awareness on smart drinking within the student target group. Both campaigns are hence a first step towards a more elaborated, evidence-based campus program. Intended outcomes include an increase in awareness of, and change around, social norms; triggering a conversation; and change drinking behavior.

RBS is a training program that is designed to help staff at establishments like bars, restaurants, and liquor stores that is designed to reduce excessive alcohol consumption and other alcohol-related harms at the community level.

Partner: Health House (training), City of Leuven, Horeca Forma, Crime Control, bars, police department

Indiville (measurement)

Project status
This project will include the design and implementation of a compulsory RBS program, including embedding in a city charter and the licensing policy, enforcement through police and RBS flagship locations for youth and college students. Program targets all bar personnel in Leuven, including student bars and ad hoc youth party organizers. Intended outcomes include a decrease in underage drinking, binge drinking, and drink driving.

An app and/or a website that supports personalized normative feedback (such as E-check-up-2-go), through which the student receives personalized information on their drinking behavior. By using this personalized information about their own use and the risk factors, students are encouraged to reduce their consumption.

Partner: KU Leuven, UZ Leuven, Colleges, Health House, GPs/SBI, LOKO student organization

Project status
The digital normative feedback system will be based on a benchmark study that is being conducted 2019. It is to be launched to all college students and visitors of the Health House. Intended outcomes include an increased awareness in one’s own drinking behavior, SD strategies, and a decrease binge drinking.

Screening and Brief Intervention is an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce, and prevent the harmful use of, and dependence on, alcohol and illicit drugs.

Partner: KU Leuven, UZ Leuven, Heilig Hart Hospital Leuven,  GPs

Project status
SBI program including training and supporting GP’s, student GP’s, ED’s, in the delivery of SBI in their daily practices and feasibility for CLB’s at primary and secondary schools. Additional support will be encouraged through the implementation of a community-oriented approach to stimulate the delivery of alcohol-related SBI in general practice. To measure the effect of this approach, different focused evaluation modules will be integrated. Intended outcomes: increased awareness on own drinking behaviors and offer SD strategies.

Partner: City of Leuven

Project status
Program for scholars 12-16-year-olds. The intervention includes two parts: (1) through parents, training sessions to offer strategies to start conversation with their children, ultimately controlling underage drinking and build community with other parents, and (2) through peers, classroom training session on social media use, social norm building through social media, and exposure of alcohol on social media. Intended outcomes include a decrease underage drinking and a change of social norms.

The existing Health House program could be scaled up and improved in order to strengthen one or several other interventions is the next step. Options are to extend to other target groups, to develop a mobile version, to focus on a longer term follow up (in combination with the intervention e-mental health), to integrate a long-term behavioral change approach, etc. 

Partner: Health House, City of Leuven, KU Leuven

Project status
Exploration of how Health House can be scaled and strengthen one or several interventions will be done based on a focused evaluation and feasibility study, including an evaluation of the Health House 1.0 program as well as real-life test runs. Intended outcomes include an increase in awareness of one’s own drinking behavior, a change in social norms, learning about possible alternative SD strategies.


Health House developed a mediation program of the city for students who got a fine for alcohol related public nuisance through an interactive route at the Health House center. The Health House mediation program includes motivational interviewing and personalized feedback.

Partner: Health House, City of Leuven, KU Leuven

Project status
An evaluation of Health House 1.0 is being drafted.  Intended outcomes of Health House include an increase in awareness of one’s own drinking behavior, a change in social norms, learning about possible alternative SD strategies.

Partner: Loko, student organizations, and City of Leuven

Project status
Social norm campaign and series of fun, public events for college students that uses the ‘morning after fun’ concept to increase awareness about ‘all the fun you miss out on when you drink too much’. The five-week campaigns, conducted in 2018 and 2019 at the beginning of the academic year, includes the promotion of mocktails, the concept of the ‘fun zone’, and more. Lazarus strengthened both campaigns, that were autonomously planned by the student organization LOKO, by underpinning the campaigns by evidence, by increasing the scale and by enhancing professionalism thanks to the support of a communication agency. Intended outcomes include an increase in awareness of, and change around, social norms; triggering the conversation; and change drinking behavior.