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ECONOMIC ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN BELGIUM

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INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies  

The purpose of the reorganization of the structure of the Belgian Agency for Development Cooperation (BADC) was to improve the monitoring and follow-up of its programmes, and to systematize the evaluation of results. The huge number of current projects will give way to a more focused approach, with emphasis on project quality. Belgian development cooperation will continue to include in its bilateral programmes, activities at the grass roots and governmental levels by promoting a bottom-up and participatory approach.

As a member country of the Development Aid Committee (DAC) of OECD, Belgium's development cooperation, is analyzed every three years under a peer review process. In preparation for this review, a Memorandum on Belgian aid is written by the Belgian Administration for Development Cooperation focusing on the strategic framework and the essential characteristics. The strategic framework discussion covers new orientations, measures taken to put into practice the principles and recommendation of the DAC, major themes of capacity building in partner countries, coordination of aid and country strategies, efficiency and results of aid management, coherence with other policies, and information and public awareness raising. The essential characteristics section covers the volume and perspectives of the evolution of overseas development assistance (ODA), multilateral contributions, a sector breakdown of aid, debt reduction, geographic concentration, technical cooperation, tied aid, and non-governmental organizations.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

In response to the complex international situation of the last few years, Belgian development cooperation has undergone a reorientation, carried out in March 1997, which seeks to make aid more effective and responsive to the needs of those it seeks to assist. Direct Belgian bilateral aid is focused on five sectors: health care; education and training; agriculture and food security; basic infrastructure; and social development.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

Capacity building is an important aspect of the five sectors. Belgian development policy will focus on the building of local capacity in order to promote basic health care within National public health policies and stress the importance of reproductive health care, including care of mothers and children in the context of family planning. Particular emphasis will be placed on the development of capacities to set up a system of sickness funds adapted to local circumstances and managed by the local community, so that everybody can have access to health care services.

In terms of education and training, the emphasis will be on basic education and literacy; vocational training; and the training, retraining, and supervision of teachers. The education programmes supported by Belgium give absolute priority to basic education, which includes primary education (both formal and informal) and basic training for young people and adults. Local authorities are responsible for these programmes, while Belgian development cooperation has a supportive role to improve quality. A second area of interest is assistance for vocational and technical training in connection with the existing formal and informal economic sectors. It is crucially important to train and re-train teachers and to strengthen the institutional capacity of the education sector. The effectiveness and efficiency of measures to combat poverty can only be guaranteed in a stable society that ensures local participation in decision-making processes. Respect for human-rights, democratic processes, and the building of a civil society are the necessary preconditions for sustainable development. Belgian development cooperation makes a particular effort to support grass-roots movements that mobilize people, communicate their needs during decision making processes, and strengthen the functional capacity of authorities. For all these reasons, Belgian development cooperation stresses the need for the development of local capacities for: a) the promotion of good governance and the development of the rule of law (the institutional capacity of developing countries has to be strengthened, particularly through support to strategic areas such as justice, police, etc.); b) the enhancement of responsible and well-run public policies, especially in terms of planning, monitoring, and evaluation; c) the support for reconciliation activities to create trust in conflict regions (field diplomacy); and d) de-mining operations.

In indirect cooperation with NGOs and universities, Belgian policy will opt for financing the basis of framework agreements and annual programmes which determine objectives,instruments, and implementation methods. Collaboration with these indirect agents will be based on qualified trust and on their empowerment to implement the framework agreement and the relevant annual programmes. At the same time, they must justify their work and more selective external evaluations will be completed than in the past to verify that projects have been implemented with reference to objectives. The BADC is in the midst of a process to develop the instruments needed to systematically and regularly evaluate and control the implementation of these framework agreements and annual programmes.

The BADC supports postgraduate university programmes aiming at training students in a broad range of specializations. Environmental issues cover one third of the subjects of these training programmes. These topics cover different aspects of the ecological discussion and range from sectoral approaches (soil science), to problem solving courses (human settlements) and applied sciences (environmental sanitation, water resources engineering), to more integrated and interdisciplinary projects (human ecology, eco-development). In addition, BADC is funding training programmes that stem from the initiative of private organizations in the fields of transport, infrastructure, management, industry, agriculture, fish farming, and the social sector.

The support of these international training programmes is complemented by a system of about 750 grants to assist with short intensive training courses. Here, environmental subjects are also prominent. Subjects range from water and lake management, to water treatment in the textile industry. Capacity building potential is a relevant criteria in the selection of participants, who as a group perform better than other students selected purely on academic results. Capacity building relevance of the programmes is also based on an iterated evaluation process, which adjusts the content of the programmes according to needs. A third element of importance for the capacity building discussion is the occupational orientation of the participants. Although a systematic follow-up of the students is impossible, the available results indicate that many find their way into an environmentally important position, even several years after completion of the courses.

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies  

No information is available

Financing  

While the BADC has projects in 47 countries, it co-finances projects in 111 countries. In order to rationalize the limited funds and human resources which the BADC can effectively contribute to development projects, economic, socio-political, and geopolitical criteria were developed to help identify a list of countries and regions to receive bilateral assistance in 1994.

Cooperation  

About 15% of development cooperation assistance goes to the European Development Fund (EDF), that is, approximately Bfr 3 billion (US$ 91 million). Belgium continues to demand greater clarity in the use of development cooperation assistance and a greater cohesion and complementarity among the European Fund for Development's programmes and the bilateral programmes of the 15 member countries. The BADC contributes to the budgets of a number of international organizations and funds, such as the EDF, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UNDP, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), among others.

Concerning its external affairs, the Flemish Government has a fund for sustainable development which offers possibilities for capacity building initiatives next to its budget for implementing existing cooperation agreements with countries such as South Africa and Chile.


* * *

This information was submitted by the Government of Belgium to the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth. Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: October 1999

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TRADE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

Trade and environmental problems are dealt with in the Coordination Group on Trade and Environment under the aegis of the Coordination Committee for International Environmental Policy. The Interdepartmental Commission for Sustainable Development, etc. also gives attention to the interface between environmental problems and our trade policy.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No changes in legislation or regulation were specifically made in relation to trade. Changes rather occurred in relation to the effects of production, in a more general way. Given the fact that a large amount of the industrial production is exported, one can only discern an indirect link.

There are no specific derogation regimes in the field of environmental legislation or administrative practices to attract foreign investors.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

At OECD, UNEP, UNCTAD and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Belgium has positioned itself definitely in favour of the adoption of core labour and social standards within trade agreements in order to accelerate sustainable social development in developing countries. The country has, therefore, played an active role in economic matters and in trade such as OECD and WTO, and in international and environment-oriented fora such as CSD and UNEP.

Since the establishment of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) in 1995, Belgium, together with all European member states, has considered principle 12 of the Rio declaration as a central reference for the CTE discussions. The most effective way of dealing with transboundary environmental problems is through international and multilateral agreements (MEA’s), not by unilateral trade measures. Belgium believes that the multilateral trading system, and the WTO framework rules, should be supportive of MEAs when they include restricted trade measures that may be necessary for environmental goals.

Further work will be required to determine whether any modification of the WTO provisions are necessary to accommodate, among other aspects, MEAs and new instruments of environmental policy like Eco-labelling. Belgium also gives prominence to further market access for the least developed countries (LCD’s) in order to support development prospects and improve export performance of LCD’s.

In the run-up to the Millenium Round in Seattle, Belgium promotes the idea of good corporate citizenship. Investors should respect the principles and goals enshrined in the codes of conduct that have been proposed the last few years. WTO should introduce special rules and a differentiated approach for LDC’s that ensure that foreign direct investment enhances sustainable development.

Concerning non-binding analytical work in international fora, Belgium participates in the OECD joint session on trade and environment. Belgium is particularly concerned about quantitative analysis exploring the linkages between market access improvements for developing countries and tariff escalation, international trade in waste, domestically prohibited goods (DPG’s) and competitiveness.

Belgium supports UNEP activities as they are complementary to the CTE work program, especially those concerning the assessment of trade measures within the main MEA’s (the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal, the Montreal Protocol and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and studies and workshops on well-targeted sectors.

Belgium welcomes the fact that the Declaration of Rio and Agenda 21 has broadened the scope of discussion on trade and environment and sustainable development. Belgium believes that the debate on trade and environment could be based on the principles provided in Agenda 21. Within this context, Belgium attaches special importance to the decisions of the CSD on the relationship between environmental policy and competitiveness, in which the lack of evidence that environmental policy in general has detrimental effects on competitiveness is acknowledged, and where the problem that environmental regulations from importing countries may cause to developing countries in transition is underlined. The principle of cost internalisation is explicitly referenced and green countervailing duties are firmly rejected.

At OECD, UNEP, UNCTAD, and the World Trade Organization (WTO), Belgium has positioned itself definitely in favour of the adoption of core labour and social standards within trade agreements in order to accelerate sustainable social development in developing countries. The country has, therefore, played an active role in economic and trade fora such as OECD and WTO, and in international and environmental oriented fora such as CSD and UNEP.

Since the establishment of the WTO's Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) in 1995, Belgium, together with all European member states, has considered principle 12 of the Rio Declaration as a central reference for CTE discussions. The most effective way of dealing with transboundary environmental problems is through international and multilateral agreements (MEAs), not by unilateral trade measures. Belgium believes that the multilateral trading system, and the WTO framework rules, should be supportive of MEAs when they include restricted trade measures that may be necessary for the achievement of environmental goals.

Further work will be required to determine whether any modifications of the WTO provisions are necessary to accommodate, among others aspects, MEAs and new instruments of environmental policy like eco-labelling. Belgium also gives prominence to further market access for the least developed countries (LDCs) with a view to support development prospects and improve export performance of LDCs.

Concerning non-binding analytical work in international fora, Belgium participates in the OECD joint sessions on trade and environment. Belgium is particularly concerned about quantitative analysis exploring the linkages between market access improvements for developing countries and tariff escalation, international trade in waste, domestically prohibited goods (DPGs), and competitiveness.

Belgium supports UNEP activities as they are complementary to the CTE work program, especially those concerning the assessment of trade measures within the main MEAs, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, the Montreal Protocol, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)], and the studies and workshops on well targeted sectors.

Belgium welcomes the fact that the Declaration of Rio and Agenda 21 have broadened the scope of discussion on trade and environment, and sustainable development. Belgium believes that the debate on trade and environment could be based on the principles provided in Agenda 21. Within this context, Belgium attaches special importance to the decisions from CSD IV. This includes the relationship between environmental policy and competitiveness, in which the lack of evidence that environmental policy in general has detrimental effects on competitiveness is acknowledged, and the problem that environmental regulations from importing countries may cause to developing countries in transition is underlined. The principle of cost internalization is explicitly referenced and green countervailing duties are firmly rejected.

Concerning future work, the Belgian government would like to introduce the precautionary principle (Rio Declaration, Principle 15) to the debate in order to accommodate the multilateral trade system to environmental needs. Belgium supports enhanced policy coordination at the National level in the area of trade and environment, and at the international level, wishes to develop a holistic approach between international organizations (WTO/CTE, OECD, UNCTAD, UNEP, and CSD). The Belgian economy is highly oriented towards international trade and the country is at the crossroad of France, Germany and the Netherlands. Between 1980 and 1996 economic development was below the OECD-wide average and the growth rates of industrial production and energy supply are lower than that of the GDP.As indicated in the OECD-environment performance review (1998), pollutant emissions have been decoupled from economic growth. Pesticide use (in agriculture) and road traffic remain problematic. The increase in traffic in Belgium is among the highest in any OECD country (three times the OECD-average).

With exports representing more than two-thirds of GDP, Belgium's prosperity and economic performance depends more than average on international trade. The contribution of real export growth to GDP growth has been important in recent years. Export growth leads to more employment, thus higher available income, which stimulates private consumption and the households' investment. These improved demand possibilities fuel corporate investment. The government's budgetary position improves mostly due to rising revenues. However, all this (domestic demand and investment) requires always considerably more imports, so that the contribution of net exports stays relatively limited. In the 1970s the average growth contribution of net exports was even negative due to a lack of competitiveness and a strong domestic demand. 

Table1: Contributions to economic growth in constant prices (changes in %)

 

1971-1980

1981-1990

1991-1998

Final domestic demand 1

3.6

1.5

1.5

Exports (1)

2.4

2.7

3.1

Imports (2)

-2.6

-2.3

-2.9

Net exports (1-2)

-0.2

0.4

0.2

GDP

3.4

1.9

1.7

1. Private and public consumption, gross fixed capital formation and stock building

Since 1994, the Belgian government is limiting wage increases to restore the competitiveness of the Belgian export sectors and to stimulate a more job intensive growth.

As in many other countries we can observe a growth in direct foreign investments (from as well as into Belgium). We also observe a growth in delocalisation of production in more traditional industrial sectors (clothing, textile,...). A study made by the Federal Planning Bureau (‘97) indicates that more than 50% of foreign investment and delocalisation by Belgian firms is motivated by direct access to new markets and expansion plans. Differences in labour costs are the third reason and only 1% of the firms indicate that differences in environmental legislation influenced their decision. Services are also becoming more important as well on the production as on the consumption side. As indicated earlier, road traffic is becoming a major problem, given its negative environmental impact.

Challenges  

The weaknesses of the system are related to selection procedures, regional diversification, and limited means to measure effectiveness in terms of environmental benefit. Capacity building on environmental issues (through the organization of international courses and short training programmes) is an area with a high demand and unmet needs, with tangible outputs, but also with long term results which are difficult to evaluate.  

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information  

Belgium reports on a regular basis - usually once a year - relevant statistical material to the secretariats of the International Commodity Organisations of which it is a member, such as International Coffee Organisation, International Lead and Zinc Study Group, etc.

Some Commodity Organisations have established mechanisms that review the impact of industrial processes on a regular basis. The International Copper Study Group established a Committee on Environment and Economy in 1995. Belgium takes part in its proceedings.

Belgium approved the International Agreement on Tropical Wood (1994), in the framework of which Objective 2000 aims at ensuring that by that date all exports of tropical wood would take place under conditions of sustainable and ecologically sound forest management. Belgium contributed data on its fiscal regime and customs tariffs to the EU Commission, which is preparing a report to the ITTO by November 1999.

The Royal Federation for non-Ferrous Metals produces reports on environment-friendly production methods elaborated by Belgian industry. ( www.fabrimetal.be ).

Several topics related to trade and investment are analysed in reports to the OECD.

Information is available as well in printed form (monthly, quarterly, annual reports) as on the web sites of some public institutes, ministries….

The most important official web sites are:

- In the general field of social and economic affairs:

Banque Nationale de Belgique/Nationale Bank van België/ National Bank of Belgium/ Belgische Nationalbank: http://www.bnb.be

Bureau fédéral du Plan/ Federaal Plan bureau/Federal Planning Bureau: http://www.plan.be

Ministère des Affaires Economiques/ Ministerie van Economische Zaken/ Ministry of Economic Affairs/ Wirtschaftsministerium: http://mineco.fgov.be

- in the field of foreign trade: Office Belge de Commerce Extérieur/ Belgische Dienst voor Buitenlandse Handel/Belgian Foreign Trade Board: http://www.obce.be

        Office National du Ducroire/ Nationale Delcrederedienst/Belgian Export Credit Agency.

Research and Technologies  

No information is available

Financing  

No information is available

Cooperation  

In Belgium, the "Committee for Co-ordination of International Environmental Policy" (CCIEP) established a working group on Trade and Environment in 1995 under the chairmanship of a representative of the Minister of Foreign Trade. The Committee’s mandate is the follow-up of the decisions and activities of the European Union (EU), and the activities related to trade and environment at the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

According to article 133 of the Treaty of the European Union, trade policy is an exclusive competency of the European Commission. In its legally binding aspects, trade and environment policy is defined by the European member states in the "113 Committee".

Belgium is committed to a high level of environment protection, and to an open, fair and non-discriminatory multilateral system. These are equally important objectives. In this respect, Belgium considers that trade and environment policies can play a mutually and supportive role in favour of sustainable development.

In Belgium, the Committee for Coordination of International Environmental Policy (CCIEP) established a Working Group on Trade and Environment in 1995 under the presidency of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. The Committee's mandate is the follow-up of decisions and activities of the European Union (EU), and the work related to trade and environment at the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This is completed at the National level in cooperation with the Federated entities. According to article 113 of the Treaty of the European Union, trade policy is an exclusive competence of the European Commission. In its legally binding aspects, the trade and environment policy is defined by the European Member States in the so called "113 Committee".

Belgium is committed to a high level of environmental protection, and to an open, equitable, and non-discriminatory multilateral system. These are equally important objectives. In this respect, Belgium considers that trade and environment policies can play a mutually supportive role in favour of sustainable development.

* * *

This information was submitted by the Government of Belgium to the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth. Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last update: October 1999

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CHANGING CONSUMPTION PATTERNS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

There is no national body dealing with aspects of sustainable consumption and production patterns for Belgium as a whole. However, several bodies exist that deal with eco-consumption or with the protection of the consumers.

The Coordination Committee for the International Environmental Policy (CCPIE) established two bodies in 1998 for the preparation and implementation of international decisions by the Federal and the regional authorities. These are the Steering Group Product Policy (chaired by the Office for the Product Policy, federal Ministry of the Environment) and the Steering Group on Greening of Government (chaired by the Office for the Studies and the Coordination, federal Ministry of the Environment).

At the federal level, the Office for the Product Standards of the Federal Ministry of the Environment operates as the contact point for the environmental and health issues of the consumption and production patterns. The Interdepartmental Commission for Sustainable Development, established in 1997, is responsible for formulating propositions to be included in the federal plan on sustainable development by 2000.

The Brussels region’s environmental authority is the Brussels Institute for the Management of the Environment (IBGE-BIM). In Flanders, the Department of the Environment and Infrastructure has the mission to improve the environment, protect the architectural and ecological heritage, to carry out spatial planning and formulate policy concerning traffic and transport. The department has six administrations, of which the Administration for Environment, Nature, Land and Water Management (AMINAL) is the environmental agency. In addition, several public agencies provide specified services in the environmental field: Flemish Environment Agency (VMM, Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM), Flemish Land Agency (VLM). The Wallonia regions’ authority for environment is the General Direction for the Natural Resources and the Environment (DGRNE)

The environmental functions of provinces and municipalities have recently been extended. Several laws and decrees are being implemented at the provincial level, as is much of the permitting procedure. In some instances, the province is the appeal authority concerning decisions taken at the municipal level. Municipalities issue land-use consents and also have a role in environmental permitting, including a policing function. They also have a role in nature conservation. The municipalities also have a legal monopoly for the distribution of gas and electricity.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Regarding the attempts to reform production and consumption patterns, four primary Federal legislative initiatives are directed at encouraging the purchase of eco-friendly consumer goods:

The Law has the following aims: (a) to provide a solid legal foundation for an integrated, sustainability-directed product policy with a view to protecting the human environment and public health; (b) to offer a legal basis for an easy implementation of the European directives on hazardous substances, hazardous preparations, pesticides and packaging; and (c) to encourage a product policy that is aimed at the promotion of sustainable products and consumption patterns.

The Law will allow the federal administration to implement a whole series of measures by Royal Decree. These measures relate to, among other things, (a) restriction, temporary suspension or banning of the placing on the market of various categories of products, or of their use in conflict with the regulations, (b) requirement that the placing on the market of certain products be made subject to preliminary permission or notification; (c) removal from the market of specific products; (d) encouragement of the re-use of products; e) the prescribing of methods of analysis; (f) prescribing of the product information that must be provided; (g) mandatory application of international or federal systems for quality assurance; (h) banning or restricting of the export of specific products; and (i) prescribing of a mandatory notification of the quantities and volumes of products brought onto the market or of imported and exported products. It will be possible to prescribe such measures not only by means of a unilateral government ruling but also by means of voluntary agreements with the sectors concerned, subject to a procedure that guarantees public participation and adequate publicity. Finally, there is a chapter that seeks to make the supervision of these measures and the imposition of the relevant sanctions more effective.

Throughout the Belgium, many firms are improving their environmental management systems in order to obtain ISO 14001 certification. By October 1997, four firms in Belgium were registered with the European Union EMAS system (three in Flanders and one in Wallonia).

Industry organisations are increasingly willing to enter into voluntary agreements with governments. Sixteen agreements were signed between 1988 and 1996 in the, e.g., following sectors: chemical (CFCs use in aerosols, phosphate use in detergents, and export of pesticides, the collection of used pharmaceutical drugs), electricity (reduction of SOx and NOx emissions), cement, building and glass. Voluntary agreements could be strengthened, with clearer definition of quantitative targets. A Flemish decree, adopted in 1994, regulates voluntary agreements between industry groups and government agencies and makes them more transparent. However, fewer agreements were signed after the decree.

In the current decade, the evolution of Flemish environmental legislation and codes of practice includes:

  1. Adoption of a basic environmental law, the Decree on Environmental Management (1995) setting out the broad orientation of Flemish environmental policy, such as the principle of preventive action, the preference for measures aimed at the source of pollution and the precautionary, stand-still and polluter pays principles;
  2. Adoption of a system of integrated environmental permitting in line with the EU IPPC-Directive. The integrated approach to the licensing of activities has evolved from a sectoral licensing system in which more than six different permits (exploitation, waste, waste water, discharge to rivers, groundwater, noise) were issued, in the early 1980’s, towards the granting of a fully integrated single environmental permit at present. A degree of integration was achieved with the Vlarem I and Vlarem II regulatory provisions in 1991-95 and with the 1995 decree that stresses a preventive approach and the use of best available technologies. The approach also led to better co-ordination between environmental and building sectors;
  3. Enforcement of legislation on environmental care within companies. The April 19 1995 Decree in the Flemish Region stimulates and regulates responsible-care initiatives by enterprises. There is a similar initiative in the Walloon Region to integrate environmental concerns in firms' behaviour. The system requires appointment of an environmental co-ordinator, preparation of an environmental audit, measurement and registration of emissions, and adoption of a company policy in order to avoid serious accidents. All these measures apply only to a certain type of dangerous installation. An annual environmental report is a legal obligation, which Flemish authorities check carefully. The Federation of Chemical Industry (FIC), and its two branches in Flanders (480 members) and Wallonia (200 members), have been promoting a Responsible Care Program since 1991 which is mandatory for all members. To date, 730 enterprises have signed the undertakings of the program that covers both operations and the handling of products.
  4. The 1981 Decree on Prevention and Management of Waste (modified in 1994) is the legal basis for waste management. The decree contains a number of general prohibitions, provides for the obligation to accept and remove waste materials, as well as the import and export of waste materials. Within the general framework of the five-yearly waste plan, more specific implementation plans (e.g. domestic waste, construction and demolition waste, compostables) are elaborated in consultation with sectoral stakeholders.

In Wallonia, a 1985 decree sets the institutional framework for waste management, including the creation of a stakeholder Waste Committee, the Walloon Waste Agency and a classification system of controlled landfills. The decree of 27 June 1996 relating to waste defines the responsibilities of all persons who produce or store waste and stipulates five general objectives such as minimisation of the quantity of waste generation, re-use and environmentally-safe disposal. A further 1997 decree establishes a waste classification.

The Wallonia Union of Enterprises is providing eco-counsellors to its members. At least 300 firms are expected to participate in voluntary agreements to work on auditing, planning and implementation of better environmental management practices. The program includes co-ordination with educational institutions, industry associations, and regional and local authorities, and it is subsidised in part by the regional government. In Wallonia a requirement to provide an annual environmental report (AER) is not yet into force.

In Brussels-Capital, a July 1992 Ordinance defines prevention, recycling and reuse, and risk minimisation as the three guiding principles of waste management in the region.

The Brussels-Capital region uses the annual environmental report (AER) which was designed for use by SMEs, a large majority of the enterprises in this region. A firm operating under an environmental permit must produce annually a report detailing the measures taken in order to comply with the conditions stated in the permit and with the general objective of protecting the environment. The AER helps firms become aware of their environmental problems and provides the public with information about measures taken by industry. This measure, inspired by the EU Environmental Management System, is specially designed as a "mini-audit" which can help firms monitor their environmental performance. AER data from 723 firms, mainly small and medium enterprises, were made available in 1994. However, there is no sanction for not providing an AER.

The Brussels Region (IBGE-BIM) has also established a code of good practice for administrations and industries, Charters (eco-consumption 1994, 240 adherent, and eco-management for 1999).

ECONOMIC INSTRUMENTS

Belgium applies economic instruments on a wide scale and has increased the rates of environmental taxes and charges. Environmental taxes are in some cases earmarked for environmental purposes. While fiscal policy remains largely a federal responsibility, the regions are developing their own taxes and charges in their specific domains such as water, waste and contaminated soil management. Municipalities are starting to separate environmental taxes from general property taxes.

At the federal level, taxes are levied on products. Belgium was for instance one of the first countries to use product taxes aimed at discouraging consumption of environmentally damaging goods or services. The eco-tax law was very ambitious, in that it included an implementation time schedule that proved too stringent and had to be readjusted several times. As a result of the eco-tax, producers have changed their products in order to avoid the tax and consumers have bought fewer taxed products. In the case of products like batteries, for which producers have organised a recovery system, the recycling objective will be fulfilled if the recycling rate is at least 75 percent by 2000. Concerning package and packaging waste, the eco-tax was only introduced in 1997 but will help reach reuse and recycling targets.

Energy and vehicle-related taxes, noise tax are also raised at the federal level. Fuel and vehicle taxes are very significant and have been introduced mostly for fiscal reasons. In 1993 a small tax on energy was added as an interim measure. The revenues from this tax are used to finance social security expenses, in an attempt to reduce fiscal pressure on labour and other elements of production so as to safeguard competitiveness and employment. This tax does not apply to commercial diesel oil, LPG, coal and high voltage electricity. Belgium supports the EU proposal to introduce a Europe-wide tax on CO2 and energy as a means of reducing CO2 emissions. A specific tax on vehicles using LPG (BF 61.5 million paid in 1996) has discouraged the use of such cars. Differential taxation has been established for leaded and unleaded gasoline (BF 2 difference per litter) and for heavy fuels with more or less than 1 percent sulphur content.

Flanders and Wallonia have introduced a tax on ground water abstraction and Flanders a tax on gravel extraction. A tax on NO x emissions is being discussed in Flanders. A special landing charge was introduced at Brussels airport that varies according to the noise level of individual planes and the time of landing.

In addition to municipal charges for garbage collection and treatment, taxes on industrial and household waste have been introduced. Revenues from waste charges are earmarked for financing implementation of the waste policy in the Brussels-Capital region as well as in Wallonia; in Flanders such revenues are used within a global environmental fund. Rates for industrial waste in Flanders have been successively increased and depend on the type of waste and type of treatment. Wallonia has imposed a tax on all types of waste, with few exceptions. The tax rate differs according to the type of waste and increases with toxicity. Wallonia seeks to influence the behaviour of municipalities by allowing part of the waste tax to be returned when certain waste management conditions have been fulfilled. Households pay a waste charge according to the size of the household. In the Brussels-Capital region they pay a flat rate for collection and treatment and firms pay according to actual collection and treatment costs, but there are enforcement problems with small and medium enterprises.

Regions have also established other taxes, such as that on the overproduction of manure in Flanders. The rate of this tax increases with the level of production, so as to protect small farmers.

Waste water charges are used in all three regions to finance the construction of water treatment infrastructure. As these charges are not sufficient, general budget appropriations are still needed. In 1991 the Flemish waste water charge changed from a flat rate to a charge based on the amount of pollution emitted to surface waters, whether by households or firms. In Wallonia the charge is based on water consumption by households and on units of pollution for agricultural and industrial firms. In the Brussels-Capital region households and small enterprises (those employing fewer than seven persons) pay a flat rate for waste water. The waste water charge paid by other users increases according to the amount of water discharged and the degree of pollution.

In the Wallonia Region, assistance for investments in environmental protection takes the form of grant. The aim of the scheme is to encourage firms to exceed current legal environmental standards and to promote recycling and the rehabilitation of polluted sites. The following investment types will be considered for assistance: construction of facilities designed to reduce or eliminate pollution or hazards; investment in existing production facilities to render them less polluting; recycling of residues and wastes; rehabilitation of polluted sites; and research, development and industrial application of less polluting products or production techniques. Assistance for Enterprise Zones is restricted to firms with a workforce not exceeding 250 percent within these Zones, no such restriction applies. The maximum rate of award is 20 percent of eligible expenditure.

Investment deductions are made for research and development of new products or technologies having no or little impact on environment and energy efficiency.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

There is no strategy or policy addressing sustainable consumption or production patterns for Belgium as a whole. The first four-year Federal Plan on Sustainable Development as foreseen by the Law on coordination of sustainable development (1997) will contain actions to implement between 2000 and 2004, aiming at modifying the unsustainable consumption and production patterns. The law also foresees a biannual report that will focus on the issues raised by the chapter 4 of Agenda 21.

Belgium’s priorities in changing consumption and production patterns include:

Flemish Region

The Decree on the Environmental Management requires the preparation of a biennial report on the environment and nature (MIRA) and the formulation and adoption of a five-year Environmental Management Plan (MINA Plan) based on the principles of the Brundtlandt report, Agenda 21 and the Fifth Action Plan of the European Community. The decree also requires the operation of annual environmental programs. The second MINA Plan entered into force in January 1997. It is a strategic document including thirteen themes and nine target groups. It is linked to a biennial environmental status report and the annual environmental program approved by the Flemish Government.

In the MINA Plan, the elaboration of an integrated approach is taken further to an advanced degree and the incorporation within the concept of sustainable development is considered pivotal. This was realised at different levels: through providing an opportunity for the public and interest groups to participate to the implementation of the environmental policy plan, through incorporating the principles of sustainable development as main lines of policy, and through a strong focus on international environmental issues and integration. Target groups, such as industry, agriculture, energy and tourism are invited to take part in the solution of environmental problems and the ‘area-specific approach’. The horizontal and vertical integration and co-operation between governments is also dealt with in the MINA Plan.

Brussels Region

Some parts of the Brussels waste plan 1998-2002 (sustainable consumption, studies and awareness), circular for public administrations (waste prevention and eco-consumption in administrations), charter for waste prevention and management, and a project of a new charter on eco-management of enterprises and sustainable production and consumption address economic expansion and environmental issues.

Wallonia region

The decree of 21 April 1994 related to environmental planning addresses sustainable development issues also the overall lines of consumption and production issues. In addition, the Walloon region developed its first Environmental Plan for Sustainable Development in 1995. The plan is complemented by specific sectoral plans. One of the latest sectoral plans is the Waste Management Plan - horizon 2010. The decree provides basis for a state of the environment report that describes sustainable development activities in the region.

The Wallonia region is in a process of introducing the sustainable development ideology to the economic activities that support investments, research and development and EMAS/ISO 14000.

An example of a regional effort on waste prevention at source is the Charter on Office Waste agreed to by 260 large companies in Brussels-Capital, employing 10-20 percent of people in the office sector. According to the charter, the companies are committed to reduce paper consumption by one-third and recycle 80 percent of the remaining two-thirds. Flemish industry must report the amounts of waste it produces to the authorities, which helps to raise awareness of waste management issues. Special efforts (information and financial assistance) are directed at small and medium-sized enterprises, for instance the Flemish PRESTI project that targets specific industry branches.

Even if incineration and landfill are and still will be important in term of practices and volume of waste, the three Regions have chosen to develop separate collection and recycling and composting. In Brussels-Capital, recycling systems for household paper and packaging material have been organised and sorting plants established (annual capacity of 60 000 and 55 000 tons, respectively). Municipalities throughout the country have established container parks for separate collection with financial assistance from the regions. For example, as part of the environmental agreements between the Flemish Government and local authorities, a subsidy of BF 500,000 per site is being made available. These agreements also provide for subsidies to local authorities for separate door-to-door collection of household hazardous waste and recyclable material. As a result, out of the 308 Flemish municipalities, 179 organise door-to-door separate collection of dry recyclable materials and 113 of compostable kitchen and garden waste; a further two have both.

Flanders operates 18 composting facilities (combined annual capacity 293 000 tons) treating separately collected kitchen and garden waste and municipal green waste.

WASTE MANAGEMENT POLICIES

The main objective of Belgian waste policies, based on the precautionary principle, is to prevent the generation of waste and to reduce the content of hazardous materials in waste. All three regions have comprehensive waste management plans containing general approaches and quantitative targets.

Flemish solid waste management plans have since 1986 defined targets and the actions required to meet these. A 1997-2001 implementation plan for municipal waste sets further quantitative targets for separate collection.

The 1991-95 Wallonia Waste Plan sets objectives and approaches within a coherent waste management policy and contains guidelines for waste prevention, recycling, treatment of waste, education and public awareness. Horizon 2010, the draft third Walloon Waste Plan, sets further objectives and was the subject of an extensive public consultation process in mid-1997.

The 1992-97 Waste Prevention and Management Plan of Brussels-Capital has the objective of encouraging prevention, reuse and recycling of waste as well as optimal disposal; the plan also proposes a rigorous policy of control and follow up concerning hazardous waste. A second waste plan for 1998-2003 was in preparation in 1997.

Fost Plus is a co-operative initiative of producers and distributors of packaging material, the recycling industry, public authorities and consumers in order to promote, co-ordinate and provide financial assistance for the separate collection, possible sorting and recovery of all types of packaging waste. Fost Plus is progressively extending its operations and expects to cover the whole country by 2000. A second co-operative initiative called Valipack, dealing with industrial packaging waste, has also been launched.

Eco-taxes at the federal level are intended to influence production and consumption patterns, not to raise revenues (any net benefits go to the Regions). The 1993 Law also created the Eco-tax follow-up Commission within the Office of the Prime to evaluate the effects in term of environmental efficiency as well as the micro and macro economic consequences.

The eco-tax is complemented by the measures provided in the Interregional Agreement on Packaging (1997). In the agreement, each region agreed to legislate identical decrees implementing the EU directive (94/62/EC) on the subject and adopted the objective of recovering (materials or energy) 80 percent of the 800,000 tons of packaging waste produced annually. All companies annually placing more than 10 tons of packaging on the Belgian market are required to prepare a packaging prevention plan every three years. Companies can delegate this task to Fost Plus. Plans must be approved by the Interregional Packaging Commission created under the agreement.

Other regional waste prevention efforts include, for instance, the stimulation of cleaner technologies (provision of information) or composting (subsidy on the purchase of compost bins).

ENERGY EFFICIENCY POLICIES

The promotion of energy efficiency is a matter of regional competence in Belgium. Promotion activities are undertaken by all three regions taking into account the priority areas and choice of instruments of each region.

Energy efficiency measures are taken in all sectors: residential, industrial and transportation and range from fiscal and financial incentives to energy-audits, information campaigns, information centres, insulation standards for buildings and the regular inspection of boilers.

Flanders created a specific institution (end 1997), called VIREG - the Flemish Institute for Rational Use of Energy in order to stimulate energy savings in the residential and industrial sectors and in order to develop voluntary agreements on energy efficiency with industrial sectors.

A new collaboration agreement between the Federal government and the Regional authorities is being finalised in order to start negotiations with industry for the development of similar voluntary agreements on a national level.

POLICIES ON PROMOTING THE USE OF NEW AND RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY

The regions are responsible for the enhancement of the use of renewable energy sources (RES). Both the Wallonia and the Flemish region have set targets for the contribution of RES in the total energy consumption. Electricity from RES delivered to the grid receives a premium of 1 BEF/kWh; electricity from wind and small hydro receives 1 additional BEF above the 'green frank' (decision taken by the Control Committee for Electricity and Gas in July 1998). Furthermore, the use of RES is promoted by fiscal incentives, campaigns and brochures. A premium is given by the energy distributors for the installation of solar boilers. Flanders also gives a premium for the installation of PV-panels on roofs.

Within Flanders, the Organisation for Sustainable Energy Flanders (ODE Vlaanderen) has been given the task, by the Flemish government, to promote RE towards the general public. A Flemish Plan for Sustainable Energy is currently being elaborated.

In 1996, the Flemish government provides subsidies of 30-60 percent to local government in order to promote investments for waste prevention and recycling.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

Belgium has legally established the right of access to environmental information.

Public inquiries and hearings are an important tool for improving environmental policies with a view to achieving sustainable development. All licensing procedures in Belgium include a public information procedure to ensure full public information and participation.

This is also the case for important documents providing a definition of policies, such as the federal plan for sustainable development or environmental policy plans at regional level.

Several consultative or advisory bodies are in place with a fairly broad composition. At the federal level, the most important is the Federal Council for Sustainable Development, with participation by social partners, environmental, consumers’ and development NGOs and representatives of scientific bodies. In areas such as trade, industry, consumers or health, there are also consultative bodies. Social partners participate in the Eco-tax Follow-up Committee, the Eco-marketing Committee, the Committee for the European Ecolabel and the Federal Council for Science Policy.

In the forthcoming Federal Bill on Product Standards, it is specified that public participation and access must be provided in voluntary agreements

Regional authorities promote direct participation of economic, social and environmental partners in consultative bodies. They include the Environment and Nature Council of Flanders (MINA Council) that was established in 1991 to carry out studies and advise the Regional Government on any environmental issue, the Walloon Council for the Environment and the Sustainable Development (CWEDD) and the Brussels Council for the Environment (CBE).

Universities are also involved. The Centre for Sustainable Development in Ghent, and the Centre for Studies on sustainable Development (IGAT) at the ULB in Brussels, are often involved by the Public Authorities in delivering studies and in animating workshops.

VIREG, the Flemish Institute for the Rational Use of Industry, is a forum in which all parties involved in energy efficiency policy meet. Participants include energy producers, energy distributors, industrial federations and consumer federations. An advisory board also contains representatives from environmental organisations, scientific institutions and research centres.

Two Belgian Eco-teams have been established, participating in an international NGO-network, promoting the Global Action Plan (1989) focusing on sustainable consumption patterns at the individual level. They are Dialoog Leuven and the International Associations House in Brussels. The EcoTeam program seeks to support the development of attitudes and enabling environments that are capable of modifying patterns of consumption.

Programmes and Projects   

In 1996 the Ministry of Social Affairs, Public Health and the Environment began a pilot project on an integral environmental management system aimed at sustainability. An environmental coordinator was appointed, and the inventory phase has now been completed, as has the phase for training the civil servants. In the course of 1997 the project is being expanded to include the entire Ministry. From the end of 1997 onwards a start will be made, on the basis of the experience acquired, on the introduction of such systems into other ministries. An Action Plan 1997-1998 exists and the preparation for 1999-2000 is going on.

Some time ago the Federal Procurement Bureau (Ministry of the Civil Service), which is charged with the task of purchasing for the federal government, started revising the most widely used tender specifications, with a view to including environmental criteria. Tender specifications already revised include those for stationery and maintenance products.

Since the beginning of 1999, steps are taken for a program that aims to reduce the use of chemical pesticides outside the agriculture, to eliminate the most dangerous chemicals in the short term, to reduce the dependency of the non-agricultural use of chemical substances (pesticides) and to reduce their emission into the environment.

Both the Flemish Region and the Brussels-Capital Region set up projects aimed at introducing an Environmental Management System within the OVAM (Flemish waste administration) and the IIBGE - BIM (Brussels Environment Institute).

The Walloon Region has launched specific actions within the administration (use of recycled paper, selective collect of paper, hazardous products, energy use, vegetal oils for the engines used in the exploitation of the forests) aimed at improving the environmental performance of the Walloon Public Authority.

In the Brussels Region, the IBGE – BIM has a program in partnership with consumer association (CRIOC/OIVO- 1998-2000) to promote sustainable consumption including studies, publications and communication campaigns.

Within the framework of the Environmental Technology Research and Development Programme grants or repayable advances aim to encourage the submission of environmental research and development proposals concerning the development of marketable technologies or solutions to particular environmental problems specific to the applicant. The projects must cover one more of the following themes: prevention of industrial pollution, recycling of effluent and waste, treatment of effluent waste, control of emissions, waste and industrial pollution, and methods of treating specific cases of industrial pollution.

Status   

The Federation of Belgian Companies has coordinated in 1998 study concerning the evolution of the energy efficiency in a number of industrial activities. Sectors that contributed to the study account for 71 % of the industrial consumption of energy. They include the following activities: cement, chemicals, food, iron and steel, metalworking, pulp paper and board, non-ferrous metals and brick. The study shows that the specific consumption of energy, and hence the specific CO2-emissions linked to energy use have decreased by 4.2 % between 1990-1996. Between 1973-1996, the energy efficiency has improved by 21.1 % (for the same sample of sectors, except paper and food).

Even if a national program does exist since 1994 aimed at reducing the emissions of CO2 emissions, no nominal targets for the enhancement of energy efficiency or for the promotion of public transport exist, excepted for the Belgian National Railway Company (SNCB-NMBS).

The quantitative targets on waste reduction and recycling are summarised in the table below.

The main tools that have been adopted and are being more and more used are environmental management systems, based on the EMAS regulation or the ISO 14001 standard. The Federation of Belgian Companies is currently coordinating a study aiming at the widespread dissemination of information about ISO 14001 by EMAS

The Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs (OSTC), an administrative part of the Prime Minister's Services under the authority of the Federal Minister for Science Policy implements research programs and activities with a view to strengthening the scientific and technical research potential of the country as a whole, in cooperation with the Communities and Regions. The Plan to Provide Scientific Support for a Policy of Sustainable Development of the OSTC (1996-2002) should promote the integration of a strictly scientific approach to strategic concerns. The problematic of consumption and production patterns is being covered in several parts of the plan.

The main programs where this problematic is being covered are of course the programs with a big social science input, but there are also some others. The main programs are Levers for a sustainable development policy, Global change (part II), Standards for food products and Sustainable mobility.

The main topics treated are the following:

A first inventory of these studies is being made and will be available in the beginning of 1999.

As a basic action supporting the plan already adopted and being implemented is meta-database on sustainable development, an important contribution to the Belgian Information System on Sustainable Development.

Major research, demonstration or pilot projects in the field of energy efficiency and RES include the following:

Several new small-scale wind farms are planned. The largest Belgian wind farm in Zeebruges has been extended with a new and far more powerful wind turbine.

A first project of energy storage in the aquifer has been applied to the new headquarters of the CERA bank in Leuven. Due to the success and energy saving potential of this pilot project, the installation of a similar technology is currently under way in a hospital and several other projects are expected.

Combined heat and power (CHP or co-generation) is applied more and more frequently throughout the country. The Equipment Plan for the electricity sector 1995-2005 calls for the installation of 1000 MW of decentralised power production, mainly CHP.

October 1998 was the 'Month of energy efficiency' in Flanders. Daily meetings, conferences and workshops were organised. Firms making use of energy efficient technologies were open to the general public. Contests for energy efficient lighting fixtures were also organised. The whole program was accompanied by large information and promotion campaigns on Flemish television and in the press.

For more than ten years, the Federation of Belgian Companies has organised "Better Environmental Awards for Industry" which aim at identifying and rewarding Belgian companies that make special efforts in the field of sustainable production and consumption patterns.

Examples of projects and activities that have had significant impacts in changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns include the following:

Discouragement of use of leaded fuels: the introduction of a lower rate of duty on unleaded fuels and a higher rate on leaded) triggered, along with the introduction of catalytic converters for new cars, which was the definitive breakthrough for unleaded fuels. Their market share is still rising, from 8 % in 1988 to 69 % in 1995.

Encouragement of the use of public transport and bicycles for commuting: the use of public transport for commuting is encouraged by raising the income ceiling for intervention by the employer in social security contributions. This is done in public sector from 1992 onwards by the Royal Decree of 18 November 1991, and in the private sector from 1993 via a compulsorily applicable collective bargaining agreement. The intervention of the employer in the contributions paid by employees was declared tax-exempt by the Law of 28 July 1992 (which entered into force 1993). Furthermore, a bill put forward by the Greens has been adopted which encourages the use of bicycles in commuting.

Eco-consumption networks have been set up such as Réseau Ecoconsommation and NetwerkVlaanderen.

Challenges  

The biggest economic constraint to implementing effective programmes to address the issues related to promoting sustainable consumption and production in Belgium is the fact that energy prices are low. The legal constraints include the legal limitations stemming from harmonisation in the EC internal market. Internationally, the constraints are related to the uncertainties in the relationship between trade and environment policies.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

Research institutes such as VITO or Institut Wallon, universities and industrial federations rather frequently organise workshops and seminars on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

Some federations, such as the federation of boiler installers, organise training sessions for the correct installation of domestic boilers and up-to-date information on boiler characteristics.

The CRIOC/OIVO (Consumers Organisations’ Research and Information Centre) publishes a bimonthly periodic, Du côte des consommateurs. It organised a Forum on Responsible Consumption at the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Human Right’s Declaration in December 1998.

The public authorities have launched at the federal level a cycle of training on "greening" for the civil servants.

One of the purpose of the Inter-departmental Commission for the Sustainable Development (CIDD ICDO) set up at the federal level is obviously to develop an awareness of this issue within the administration, notably throughout the elaboration of the first federal Plan for the Sustainable Development.

Specific awareness campaign programs to promote sustainable consumption patterns include news flashes on television on energy efficient light bulbs and refrigerators, distribution of energy distributors containing information on how to reduce energy consumption and on premiums to be obtained. A larger and more detailed campaign on the 'month of energy efficiency' is going on Flemish television.

Information   

The Belgian Ecolabel Committee is studying how to promote information on the European Ecolabel throughout industry, retailers and consumers. The Federal Office for Environmental Affairs is establishing a website that will contain information on sustainable consumption and production patterns (for instance ecolabels and laws on product standards.

Click here to access the Federal Office for Environmental Affairs

[http://www.environment.fgov.be]

The Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs (OSTC) provides information on the various actions and research programmes. In each programme, the attention is focusing on the communication between the researchers and the potential users of the research results. The OSTC is developing an information tool on sustainable development for Belgium, the Information System for Sustainable Development, which contains a meta-information system and data accessible on line.

Click here to access the meta-database FEDRA that contains descriptions of the OSTC activities

Click here to access information on the Programme on Sustainable Mobility

Regarding energy issues, information dissemination towards the final consumer is organised differently in the regions:

Wallonia uses the system of the information kiosks ('guichets d'énergie') where both the industrial consumer and the residential consumer can obtain useful information on energy saving measures. A monthly newsletter (le REactif) on energy efficiency is large disseminated. The Walloon Region has set up a syllabus on information and eco-consumption within the framework of the eco-consumption network

The Wallonia region has set up an eco-consumption network in cooperation with CRIOC and Inter Environnement Wallonie. The network aims at awareness-raising of consumers by telephone advice and by publishing brochures and information leaflets.

Click here to access the DGRNE of the Walloon Region

Flanders promotes energy efficiency through VIREG and through VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research. VITO has developed the EMIS system, which gives all those interested more information on the energy savings potential of technologies and contains a database on best available technologies (BAT).

Click here to access the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO)

Brussels-Capital has currently one 'guichet d'énergie' and plans more. Furthermore, promotion is undertaken by means of publications and brochures.

The Government of the German-speaking Community has set up a consumer information agency (Verbraucherschutzzentrale East-Belgium). It informs the public about eco-consumption, the environment, and the protection of nature.

A frontier-crossing consumer information initiative has been set up by the German-speaking Community. EUROKON informs consumers in the Province de Liège and the German-speaking Community in Belgium, the Limburg Provinces in Belgium and the Netherlands, and the Aachen Region in Germany.

AUDITING AND MONITORING SYSTEMS

Inspector offices have been created at the federal level and in the three regions to improve the general environmental situation, to promote prevention, and to support the services that issue environmental permits and investigate complaints. When non-compliance is not considered too serious, the inspector seeks regularisation of the situation and evaluates the damage. If the problem is serious, the inspector will require corrective measures and possibly send the case to the prosecutor. Inspectors have the right to take coercive measures such as closing down a facility. In criminal cases punishment can result in fines or even imprisonment. If the matter is settled out of court, administrative sanctions may still be imposed. When a case is taken up by the courts, the prosecutor may ask for the technical assistance of administrative services or for further investigation by environmental inspectors or the police.

In Belgium a relatively small proportion of cases reported officially to the public prosecutor end up in a penal court. Surveys have shown wide disparities among various legal districts in actions taken against polluters. Court actions to prosecute violators of environmental laws and regulations were not very frequent in the past, and this lack of action by the federal legal system was a source of frustration for regional inspectors. In 1992 the Ministry of Justice made a special effort to bring magistrates, as well as public prosecutors offices and the courts, up to date on environmental laws. Approximately 20 percent of administrative court judgements currently relate to environmental and building permits. A bill is being prepared to introduce criminal liability of legal persons (e.g. polluting firms). On the basis of a 1993 law, an injunction to cease actions and activities in conflict with environmental obligations may now be obtained rapidly from the first-level tribunal upon request from public authorities or environmental associations.

Belgium has instituted a mediator or ombudsmen both at the federal and regional levels to receive complaints from citizens against the administration. In Flanders, 60 % of complaints to the ombudsman are related to actions by the Department of the Environment and Infrastructure. Local ombudsmen have also been created in cities such as Antwerp. In Wallonia, the mediator is nominated by the Walloon Parliament. In 1995 30 complaints concerning environmental issues were addressed to the Walloon mediator and 20 were sent to the King (i.e. federal competence). A sizeable number (13) of the complaints to the mediator were justified and the situation was corrected.

INDICATORS RELATED TO CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION PATTERNS

The Federal Planning Office organised two international CSD indicators workshops together with the government of Costa Rica on 9-11 January 1995 and 22 November 1996. The results of these workshops were fed into the CSD process. The office continues to participate in international meetings on indicators for sustainable development.

Belgium is active in the European SAVE-project on energy efficiency indicators ODYSSEE.

The Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs (OSTC) finances several research projects on indicators. The most important are the projects on:

Most of these projects consist of long term research. The final results will be available in two years.

The use of environmental indicators in the Flemish region is integrated in an overall planning approach. This approach is regulated by the Decree concerning General Provision on Environmental Policy of 4 April 1995.The decree stipulates that the Regional Environmental Report shall include the following three elements:

The Environment and Nature Report contains indicators which are organised following the pressure-state-response approach. It contains indicators on:

The Walloon region has decided to follow-up the state of the environment with the help of indicators. The basis for the set of indicators is the proposal of the European Environment Agency concerning the state of environment reporting. The major themes in the indicator framework are the development of the society and utilisation of resources, environmental problems and integration. The indicators are structured according to the driving force – state – response (DSR) model. The first selection of indicators is in process and the report should be published in early 2000.

Research and Technologies  

The following examples illustrate how clean and environmentally sound technologies are promoted and applied in production.

Companies can obtain tax relives for energy saving investments and for the use of RES.

In Flanders the BBT-kenniscentrum (BAT-knowledge centre) was set up within the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO). Its objective is to make inventories of the information regarding BAT, to evaluate BAT for every sector and to make this information available to industry and the Flemish Government. The centre operates independently from government and industry. It gives information to government for supporting the policy making regarding environmental permits, emission levies, investment support (expansion support). It also consults companies in the data gathering and evaluation. It does research into process- and sanitation techniques. It uses the existing expertise in research institutes, government and companies in Belgium and abroad. It evaluates the economical and technical feasibility of proposed measures. The centre offers and independent source of information regarding real technical possibilities that can be used by companies to function in an environmentally friendly way.

Another initiative in the Flemish region is the Presti Programmefor industrial federations that aims to stimulate the SMEs in implementing prevention measures and environmental care systems through the subsidising of projects.

Technology-related issues that promote energy efficiency include combined heat and power, solar boilers and PV-panels, energy audits in industry, covenants or voluntary agreements on energy efficiency in the industrial sector, third party financing, and development of a system of energy consultants for the industrial sector.

The Walloon region foresees to integrate sustainable development in the technology choices by making industrial permits dependent on the use of clean technologies. Financial support to companies imposes the respect of the entirety of the environment legislation.

Financing  

The activities related to changing consumption and production patterns are financed by the Federal and regional budgets.

Belgian activities in the field of energy efficiency are, as far as public funding is concerned, mostly financed by the regional authorities. Co-funding by the federal government is possible but not obligatory.

A large budget for energy saving activities (premiums for energy efficient light bulbs, refrigerators and for solar boilers) is available in the so-called RUE-fund. Since April 1996 1 cent of each kWh electricity sold is put into this fund. The budgets of 1996 and 1997 range from 310 million to 460 million BEF.

Cooperation  

Belgium supports the programmes of the multilateral organisations such as the European Union, OECD, UN-CSD and UN-ECE, World Bank and GEF.

The Federal Ministry of the Environment played will continue to be actively interested in international cooperation concerning the promotion of sustainable production and consumption, in particular the chemicals (e.g. OECD, UNEP, PIC and POP).

The Flemish Region has an active co-operation program with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Projects concerning environment were financed amounting to 220 million BEF in the period 1992-97.

The Flemish region is active in the International Network of Green Planners (INGP) which promotes actively sustainable development planning.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Belgium to the fifth and seventh sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: January 1999.

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FINANCING

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The BADC is the agency which facilitates Belgian investment and capital transfers to contribute to the social and economic development of developing countries. Other main missions of the BADC are to coordinate Belgian development policy, to implement bilateral and multilateral agreements, to organize mechanisms for technology transfer, and to promote public awareness. The BADC also provides bilateral assistance indirectly, for example, by providing support to NGO volunteers, co-financing NGO development projects, and providing subsidies to university students from developing countries. With respect to development assistance projects in developing countries, the BADC has put in place project cycle in which the systematic screening of future projects for their environmental impact will soon be integrated.

As a member country of the Development Aid Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Belgium's development cooperation, is analyzed every three years under a peer review process. In preparation for this review, a Memorandum on Belgian aid is written by the Belgian Administration for Development Cooperation focusing on the strategic framework and the essential characteristics. The strategic framework discussion covers new orientations, measures taken to put into practice the principles and recommendation of the DAC, major themes of capacity building in partner countries, coordination of aid and country strategies, efficiency and results of aid management, coherence with other policies, information and public awareness raising. The essential characteristics section covers the volume and perspectives of the evolution of official development assistance (ODA), multilateral contributions, a sector breakdown of aid, debt reduction, geographic concentration, technical cooperation, tied aid, and non-governmental organizations. The issue of environmentally unsustainable subsidies has been reported to the relevant OECD Working Group. The final common report on the work of this Group will be ready in mid-1998 for the OECD Ministerial meeting.  

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

During the last year, no new environmental tax, levies or charges have been introduced in the context of the Federal eco-tax law which was introduced in 1993. However, energy charges have been raised three times since January 1, 1996. Taxes have also been increased on commuting expenses. In the Flemish Region, environmental levies for 1996 comprised environmental taxes on waste disposal, wastewater discharges, and manure production. In the Walloon Region, there have been no recent changes to environmental taxes, levies, or charges. In the Brussels Capital City Region, no changes occurred during 1997.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status  

About 15% of development cooperation assistance goes to the European Development Fund (EDF), that is, approximately Bfr 3 billion (US$ 91 million). Belgium continues to demand greater clarity in the use of development cooperation assistance and a greater cohesion and complementarity among the European Fund for Development's programmes and the bilateral programmes of the 15 member countries. The issue of environmentally unsustainable subsidies has been reported to the relevant OECD Working group.

Subsidies to firms investing in environmental protection are widely used. The Federal Government provides aid in the form of tax exemptions. In addition, regions support actions seeking more rational use of energy, water or other raw materials, a significant reduction of emissions, better waste management, better re-utilisation and recycling of products, or measures that ensure greater product durability. Subsidies can only be granted for costs incurred for environmental reasons, provided that the aided measure reduces emissions below the required environmental standard limits.

In Flanders, small companies receive financial aid for environmentally friendly investments meeting environmental criteria. The relevant decree includes a list of technologies that can be considered for economic support and one of "black list substances" which disqualify firms from receiving a subsidy if used in improvements beyond the production process. Adjustments carried out in order to meet compulsory new environmental standards may be subsidised if firms were in operation for at least two years before the standards became compulsory. The environmental criteria were made stricter in 1995, and again in 1997. Thus, end-of-pipe pollution control techniques can now rarely qualify for subsidies. Financial aid is also provided to professional federations which advise their members on waste prevention, and to small and medium-sized enterprises which draw up a waste prevention plan for their own use.

In Walloon, aid is granted under various programmes. The "Environmental Technology R&D Programme" launched in 1993 aims at encouraging industrial firms to develop marketable technologies, or solutions to environmental problems specific to the applicant firm. Priority is given to R&D projects addressing prevention of industrial pollution, emissions control, recycling of effluent and waste, and industrial waste treatment other than landfill. Aid is provided in the case of environmental investments that meet stricter conditions than those imposed under EU, federal or regional regulations as well as for environmental consulting and worker training.

For environment-friendly investment that is certified by regions, the basic tax deduction of 3.5 per cent of investment is increased to 13.5 per cent when the objective is research and development for new products or clean technology. Similarly, the deduction is increased when the investment aims at more rational use of energy.

In the Brussels-Capital Region, financial assistance of up to 20 per cent may be provided for investment in environmental protection, up to 50 per cent for studies leading to investment, and up to 100 per cent for workers training in environmental protection, adaptation to EU standards for rational use of energy.

As far as poverty is concerned, the federal policy combating poverty in the last decade of this century is characterized by one major event: the General Report of Poverty (GRP). The federal government announced in 1992 the GRP and stated that it will be the frame of reference of the policy combating poverty. The GRP is the reflection of the dialogue and mobilisation process between the persons who experience poverty on a day-to-day basis and the citizens who, due to their occupation, are confronted with poverty and social exclusion. It contains a set of 300 recommendations concerning the right to a family life, to social assistance, to a decent income, to health, to work, to housing, to culture and participation and finally to education. The GRP was presented at the end of 1994 and transmitted to the UN in the framework of the year of the fight against poverty.

The Belgian government entrusted to the "Fondation Roi Baudouin" the drafting of a general report on poverty and the "fourth world" in Belgium. This report has been published in December 1994 and it has been transmitted to the United Nations in the framework of the year of the fight against poverty. This report contains about 300 recommendations. A series of recommendations have been translated in practical measures by the various competent ministries and government services.

In March 1995, an "Inter-ministerial conference on Social Integration" has been established. The main activities are in the following fields:

A series of recommendations of the general report on poverty have been implemented by the ministries, government agencies and local authorities. In June 1995, the Government decided that specific efforts in the fight against poverty should be enhanced, taking into account that a modern and performing social security is essential in the fight against poverty.

Between 1995 and mid-1998 four Interministerial Conferences on Social Integration (ICSI) and one special Federal Government Council on poverty where held. The Ministers of the federal government, of the regions and the Communities participate in the work programme of the Inter-ministerial Conference. The State Secretary for Social Integration carries out the Secretariat of this Interministerial Conference. The organisation of these conferences has made it possible to implement a series of proposals made by the General Report concerning exclusion, family (against placing children in foster homes), measures against debts, access to medical treatment (better reimbursement of healthcare costs), job creation (new job opportunities), housing, culture and education.

On 5th May 1998, an collaboration agreement on the fight against poverty was concluded between the federal state, the regions and the communities. This treaty aims at institutionalising the dialogue and mobilisation process as experienced during the elaboration of the GRP and the ICSI’s. A new Direction concerning the fight against poverty and social exclusion was launched within the Centre for Equal Rights and the Fight against Racism. The representatives of the organisations dealing with the poor will have the opportunity to participate in the reflection on poverty. The treaty also stipulates that at least twice a year a ICSI should be organised. Every two year, a report on the evolution of the poverty situation in Belgium will be presented.

The Belgian Social Security system ensures claimants against social risks. It is the first dam against poverty. The risks are events that limit the possibility for persons to earn an income out of an occupation or events that can reduce the standard of living. The social security measures covering this risk and its share in total social security expenditures of 1998, amounting to 45.601 million Euro, are: medical expenses (reimbursement of medical expenses, 27.3%), children burden (family allowance, 9.4%), loss of income due to sickness, maternity or invalidity (disability benefit, 5.8%), old age or early death (retirement or survival pension, 43.5%), industrial accidents (industrial accident allowance, 0.4%), occupational diseases or sickness (occupational diseases allowance, 0.8% ) and unemployment (unemployment benefit, 12.9%).

The Minimum Subsistence Level (MSL) and the Guaranteed Income for Elderly (GIE) are the second dam against poverty. Persons without sufficient means of subsistence can claim the MSL. When elderly fall in this category the GIE is attributed. In 1998 the MSL and GIE-expenditures amounted to respectively 425 and 231 million Euro. There are also other kinds of expenditure focussed on the eradication of poverty at the regional and communal level.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

The Belgian Administration for Development Co-operation (BADC) publishes every year an annual report on the activities of the Belgian development co-operation and the financial flows to developing countries (latest edition, 1998). This publication is available free of charge in English, French and Dutch. A web site is in preparation. 

Research and Technologies  

No information is available

Financing  

No information is available

Cooperation  

The OECD Environmental Performance Review Programme conducts peer reviews of environmental conditions and progress in each member country. It scrutinises efforts to meet both domestic objectives and international commitments. Evaluating progress in reducing the pollution burden, improving natural resource management, integrating environment and economic policies, and strengthening international co-operation are also central in these reviews. The Environmental Performance Reviews are directed at promoting sustainable development, with emphasis on developments in domestic and international environment policy, as well as on the integration of economic and environmental-decision-making. A broad range of economic and environmental data supports the analyses presented in the Performance Review. The OECD Group on Environmental performance conducted the review in 1998 and approved its conclusions and recommendations, which were published (OECD Environmental Performance Reviews Belgium, OECD 1998).

With regard to the aid policy, the "OECD Environmental Performance Review" mentions that while the level of Belgian ODA is sizeable (it ranks seventh among OECD-DAC countries), the amount of aid has been decreasing. Environmental aid is not a significant part of total Belgian development aid. The Report comes to the conclusion that Belgium should strengthen the environmental component of its development aid and continue its policy of providing new and additional resources to address global environmental issues.

Internet site: www.oecd.org

As a member country of the Development aid Committee (DAC) of the OECD, Belgium’s development co-operation is analysed every three year under a peer review process. In preparation of this review, a Memorandum on Belgian aid is drafted, focusing on the strategic framework and the essential characteristics. The strategic framework discussion covers new orientations, measures taken to put into practice the principles and the recommendations of the DAC, major themes of capacity building in partner countries, co-ordination of aid and country strategies, efficiency and results of aid management, coherence with other policies, information and public awareness raising. The essential characteristics section covers the volume and perspectives of the evolution of official development assistance (ODA), multilateral contributions, a sector breakdown of aid, debt reduction, geographic concentration, technical co-operation, tied aid and non-governmental organisations.

The last peer review of the Belgian international co-operation was carried out in 1997 and the report was published by the OECD (Development Cooperation review Series, Belgium, OECD, 1997). Internet site : www.oecd.org  

In the Belgian policy on development cooperation, social development and poverty reduction (combating poverty by dealing with dualism) are high on the list of priorities.

The marginalisation of certain population groups and the feminisation of poverty is increasing spectacularly. This demands a well-considered and radical choice for a form of cooperation that counteracts this divisive trend. Belgium therefore opts for a policy aimed at human development by means of physically combating poverty, while respecting the principles of sustainable development. In many cases, the poor suffer most from the deterioration of the environment. But poverty itself is often a cause of serious environmental problems. Consequently, sustainable development is possible only when physical poverty is effectively counteracted. It is therefore a matter of working on an environment in which everyone can live with dignity.

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This information was provided by the Government of Belgium to the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: October 1999.

For information on participating States in the Global Environment Fund, click here:

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TECHNOLOGY

Transfer of Environmentally-Sound Technology

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Regional Governments are the competent authorities on technology policy, with the Federal Government only involved in some specific cases. The Regional bodies are also responsible for elaborating the necessary, regulatory framework to develop and use environmentally sound technologies. This implies that the institutional setting as well as the instruments used to foster sound technologies differ from one region to the other. In all three regions, initiatives have been taken by the Regional Governments to promote the use of environmentally sound technology. These initiatives include the setting up of special agencies both inside and outside the administration. A good example of the former is the Wallonian Cellule Technologies Propres within the Walloon General Directorate for Natural Resources and Environment (DGRNE). A good example of the latter is the knowledge center on Best Available Technologies based in the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO). Other agencies promoting clean technologies include: L'Institut bruxellois pour la Gestion de l'environnement (IBGE); the Flemish Public Waste Agency (OVAM) for waste management, Aquafin for water, and ANRE for natural resources, and IWT for industry research in Flanders.

The main goal of these agencies consists of informing all interested parties, particularly the private sector, on sound technologies (what exists, how can it be implemented, what special government aid is available, and so on). These institutions, therefore, develop databases on, for example, legislation, reference material, and environmental sound technologies. The databases can be consulted by all interested persons and institutions. The objectives in Wallonia are to change behaviour at the source within a sustainable development context, to create synergistic effects among industries through collaboration, and to succeed in the reconstruction of the industrial fabric. In Flanders, the PRESTI programme aims to assemble sectoral information, to implement demonstration projects, and encourage companies to make plans to reduce waste. In contrast, the activities of the clean technology group at VITO primarily focuses on informing public authorities.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

There is no specific legislation addressing clean technologies, but environmental legislation prescribes the use of best available technology (BAT). For several selected sectors, BAT guidelines are now in preparation. These guidelines are developed cooperatively between the authorities, the sector, and research institutions.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

Two initiatives deserve special attention. The first consists of the use of the INTERNET. Several attempts have been made by the different authorities to disseminate all kinds of information related to sound technologies, environment policy aspects, or sustainable development through the INTERNET. These websites are quite often linked to all relevant international sources of information. The second initiative consists of the links with European initiatives. Environment data networks were being set up by European authorities in collaboration with the different Belgian Regional and Federal authorities.

Research and Technologies  

In Belgium, there is some evolution from "end of pipe" technologies to those which emphasize pollution prevention. A sectoral approach exists in each region, although most programmes stem from collaboration between public authorities, the different sectors, and research institutes, especially the cooperative centres. The most important targets, with precise dates, have been set for energy efficiency, waste and emission reductions, and reduction in water use. All industry sectors are encouraged to adopt clean technologies through economic incentives, especially investment, research, employment, and consultancy support.

In the Brussels Region, technologies related to the environment have been elaborated for the dry cleaning and coach building sectors in collaboration with concerned professionals. In Flanders, the waste management administration, in the same way as the clean technology group at VITO, has completed a great number of sectoral studies under the framework of the PRESTI programme which aims to improve waste management. The VITO Group is trying to optimize the use of water and energy in industries undergoing modernization. In Wallonia, a series of sectoral manuscripts have been published related to agriculture and food, foundries, plastics, paint, oil, and composites. The policy is also implemented in collaboration with all concerned sectors. The water resource plans, which are currently in preparation in Wallonia, take the promotion of environmentally sound technologies into account (for example, within the framework of the Wallonia Horizon 2010 Plan).

In Wallonia, environmentally friendly technologies are most urgently required for the heavy metals (foundries, manufacturing) and chemical sectors. In Flanders, sector priorities are defined by the particular programme. The two principle activities (PRESTI and VITO) organize advisory committees who help set sector priorities. Mechanisms to bring stakeholders together to promote and select clean technologies are anticipated.

The following are the instruments used by the different authorities to foster the implementation of sound technologies: financial aid programs to enterprises to encourage environmental investment; public awareness campaigns, the most important activity in this area which is especially focused towards small and medium sized enterprises; information packages on financial aid programmes for companies to encourage environmental investment, on environmental audit systems; on how to reduce the environmental impact of industrial activities, on product policy such as eco-labels and eco-consumption, on sectoral agreements between Regional authorities and the private sector, and on financial support to business federations to enhance their dissemination of environmentally related information specific to their industry members; R&D programmes run by the different Regional agencies; and pilot programmes in different sectors. The knowledge gained in these pilot programmes is then disseminated to all companies in the sector.

Insufficient information, collaboration, and communication are the key obstacles to the use of environmentally sound technologies. A number of efforts have been made during recent years to improve the quality and accessibility of information on environmentally sound technologies through a wider use of global information networks, improvement in the functioning of local centers for information exchange between government and enterprises, research, appointing environmental coordinators in enterprises, and promoting the European Eco-label. The efforts made by the Wallonian Region to establish sectorial dossiers is particularly noteworthy. These dossiers describe the state-of-the-art technology in relation to the environment. More then 300 companies were helped in 1996. A convention signed with trade unions represents another innovative idea.

Adoption of environmental management systems is slowly emerging. Some major production companies were certified in 1996. However, it will take some more years before small and medium sized enterprises follow. Pilot case studies, run by the European Commission with the support of the Wallonia and Flemish environmental ministries, have been established to implement the European environmental management system. In Belgium, the Belcert institution is in charge of the International Standards Organization standard ISO 14000 and the European Union's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).

Most of the instruments to transfer environmentally sound technologies are also being used to help small and medium sized enterprises. Particularly relevant are: a subsidy of 15% of the extra costs incurred by companies for environmentally sound technology; part of the investments in environmentally sound technologies can be deducted from the profit before taxes; sponsored pilot projects to introduce environmentally sound technologies in certain sectors; subsidy for environmental consultancy to young and small enterprises; diffusion of knowledge on clean technology on the INTERNET; and subsidies for research on clean technology.

Financing

No information is available.

Cooperation  

Belgium is a member of the ESTO network which regularly completes reports on the socioeconomic impact of new technologies. These reports are sent to the EU technology observatory in Seville.

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This information was provided by the Government of Belgium to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: January 1998.

 

Biotechnology

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Regional Governments are responsible for economics, science policy, prenormative research, and environmental regulations of the contained use of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and pathogens. The field testing of GMOs is a joint responsibility with the Federal Government. The Federal Government is responsible for norms, normative research, the implementation of international norms, and related coordination with specific ad hoc bodies. As the Federal level, ministries are responsible for product and market regulations, and are increasingly involved in international experts meetings coordinating information fluxes through common contact points. The Regional Ministries of the Environment control the application of the biosafety regulations through focal agencies. All contained installations are submitted for environmental clearance, whereas any projected activities must be either declared or authorized according to the appropriate biosafety level. At the Federal level, all experimental releases of GMOs must be authorized before they are carried out. Consent must also be obtained for GMO-based products destined for the European market

In Belgium, the management of biotechnology is coordinated at the Regional and Federal levels by setting up and implementing an integrated biosafety regulatory framework. This incorporates the implementation of the European Union's (EU) directives on the contained use and the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment. Indeed, not only the European provisions have been integrated, but also all uses of human, animal, and plant pathogens and the protection of biodiversity when GMOs are used in the environment or placed on the market are included.

Extensive coordination with sectoral regulations on medicinal, food/feed, and raw material products is carried out. The center of this coordination is the Advisory Biosafety Council, whose executive staff operate within the Service for Biosafety and Biotechnology (SBB) located in Brussels. The Council is a collegiate of representatives of various competent authorities from the Regional and Federal levels. The Council is sustained by ad hoc experts groups focusing on specific areas of biotechnology.

The SBB is a contact point for both internal and international scientific and regulatory interactions. Governmental experts on the SBB are National contacts for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the European Union (EU). The experts of the SBB are responsible for the risk assessment of all contained use activities, a mandate of Regional authorities. Occasionally, the advice of the Biosafety Council is requested for sensitive matters such as gene therapy and recombinant viruses. The introduction of GMOs is presently being reviewed by the Biosafety Council, especially the experimental GMOs tested in Europe and the GMO-based products submitted for approval to the European Commission.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies

The SBB is a scientific center helping all scientists involved in recombinant DNA pathogen research fulfil regulations where applicable. It is also a center for biosafety documentation and archives. As information provider, the SBB is currently managing INTERNET services to the public and users on matters of local and international interest. Whereas contained-use activities are now fully controlled on the basis of Regional regulations, some juridical acts must still be finalized for field testing and market placement of GMOs. In summary, a very flexible and efficient user and public-friendly regulatory interface has been developed.

Such a coordinated regulation fully complements the important investments and R&D networking management made by the Flemish Government. Flemish biotechnology work has a coherent structure from academic research to patent technology and biotechnology financial mechanisms This is based on R&D industry networking, including technology assessment. The special emphasis placed on transgenic plants, diagnostics, and gene therapies are noteworthy. A similar management of biotechnology is carried out in Wallonia centred around the genome research program, recombinant vaccines, bio-remediation, heteroprotein production, and bioluminescence technologies. In the Brussels Capital City Region, the same occurs for gene- and immuno-therapeutics, genetically-modified product (GMP) production of transplantable human cells, and gene therapy vectors intended for clinical research and therapies.

The Wallonian Region has over three hundred clinical laboratories, universities, and companies, as well as high schools which are active in the biotechnology sector. The presence of the European Commission in Brussels catalyzes the interaction between the local scientific community, and the international scientific and biotechnology milieu. Three large universities and five scientific institutions have made important contributions to education and training in related sciences. The Brussels Capital City Region has some 40 public and private institutions which carry out activities related to state-of-the art technology on biology, genetics, pharmacology, and medicine, etc. About 2,000 academic and industrial researchers work in the Brussels Capital City area, of which about one-quarter come from EU member countries, Eastern Europe, and developing countries.

Financing  

No information is available

Cooperation  

At the international level, business and research centers are subject to administrative controls to ensure protection of the environment. This is also in keeping with directives of the EU. The Walloon Government participates in a number of bilateral initiatives.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Belgium to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

Click here to link to biosafety web sites in Belgium.
Click here for the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Biosafety WebPages
Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
Click here to go to the Web Site of UNEP's International Register on Biosafety.

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INDUSTRY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies      

The Federal Council for Sustainable Development is composed of thirty-four members, of which fourteen are representatives of non-governmental organizations (six for environmental protection, six for development aid and two for consumer protection); six are representatives of the scientific community; and six each are representatives of federations of workers and of trade unions. The members are selected from a double list, proposed by the Central Economic Council, which represents industry, trade, agriculture and trade unions. Two additional members represent energy producers and are selected from a double list proposed by the representative organisation of the Supervisory Committee for Electricity and Gas. This brings the number of representatives of the industry sector in the Federal Council for Sustainable Development to eight out of thirty-four.

Since responsibilities for environmental industrial development are mainly under regional competence, regions have set up local plans and programmes for ecologically sustainable industrial development. In 1996, the Flemish Region adopted the Five Year Environment Policy Plan (MINA). In 1997, the Walloon Region adopted the Wallonia Sustainable Development Plan (PEDD), which included the mainly industry-oriented Wallonia Waste Plan. The Brussels Region sustainable development plan is in preparation and should be approved at the Ministerial level in early 1998.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

The Federal law on the coordination of the federal policy on sustainable development (May 5 1997) introduced an obligation to set up a report and a plan on the federal policy on sustainable development. The role of industry, one of the major groups, will of course be an important part of the report and the plan. The report has to be written by the Federal Planning Agency, which is currently setting up a Task Force to fulfill this obligation. The report has to be finalized at the end of 1998. The plan will be developed two years after the report, and will contain important options for sustainable development policy over the medium term of four years.

Besides these regional strategies, National Programmes and Voluntary Agreements have been set up since 1994. Reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the energy sector is part of the Belgian National Programme for Reducing CO2 Emissions. Some 14 measures are devoted to the industrial sector including voluntary agreements, energy audits and accounting, promotion of the use of renewable energy sources, and subsidies for RUE investments. In accordance with this National Programme, the regions have adopted their own CO2 reduction plans (Flemish CO2 Policy Plan; PEDD in the Walloon Region). At the federal level, the introduction of regulating eco-taxes (16 July 1993) and the forthcoming Law on Product Standards should be mentioned. The latter will provide an integrated, sustainable product policy, and promote sustainable production and consumption patterns. Industry is a major target of government efforts to use new and environmentally sound technologies.

The Brussels Region has initiated sectoral environmental conventions with textile industries and stations services. Since 1996, an Executing Act is in force for laundry services. In the Flemish region, the Milieubeleidsplan includes the Gflemish Strategical Plan (FSP) for 1997-2001, a complementary Environmental Policy for the short and longer term (complementary to the MINA). FSP has already been translated into concrete actions for the period to 2001 (approximately 170 actions) with Bfr 714 million dedicated to it each year.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

As a federal state since 8 May 1993, the federal government has lost the power to establish general and sectoral norms (standards) in the absence of European norms, with the exception of product standards. Today the Regions are competent for "the protection of the environment, including the protection of soil, subsoil, water and air, against pollution and adverse effects, as well as the fight against noise pollution". The Regions are competent for industrial waste policy. However, the federal government remains competent for the transit of waste and for radioactive waste. The Regions are also competent for the environmental control of companies and noxious establishments. The competence comprises both preventive control (permits, norms) and curative control (safety measures, environmental impact assessment {EIA}, safety reports, Eco-Management and Audit Scheme {EMAS}). However, Federal Authorities remain competent for safety and hygiene at work, ionising radiation (nuclear power generation industry), and chemical pollutants. The SEVESO directive and the management of the risks of major industrial accidents fall under both regional and federal competence.

Under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a voluntary agreement on brominated flame retardants and a Ministerial declaration on lead apply at the Federal level (Ministry for the Environment). On October 18, 1991, the Federal Government and the regional authorities signed a voluntary agreement with electric power producers (Electrabel and SPE) to reduce sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions from conventional power plants. Taking 1980 as the reference year, the aim is to reduce SO2 emissions by 70% in 1993, by 75% in 1998, and by 80% in 2003. For NOX the aim is to reduce emissions by 30% in 1993, 40% in 1998, and 45% in 2003. Parties to the agreement have set up a committee to monitor its execution and to amend its rules according to economic trends.

Some 15 other voluntary agreements have been signed by both regional and federal authorities with company federations. These agreements are aimed at solving specific environmental problems more quickly than would have been possible through legislation.

In Belgium, the management of air and water emissions is mostly of regional competence.

Emissions of industrial wastewater effluents in the Flemish Region were significantly reduced by 21% for biological oxygen demand (BOD), 27% for chemical oxygen demand (COD), 34% for phosphates, 23% for nitrogen, 53% for heavy metals, and 90% for suspended particles over the period 1992-1994, but severe water quality problems persist. Flemish industry remained responsible for 45% of BOD and 49% of COD in !994. Typically, the industrial sector in an industrial country such as Belgium has an important share in emissions. For waste, the manufacturing industry is responsible for around 60% of the quantity (in tonnes) of waste produced in Belgium. In 1994, the industry shares (excluding electricity generation) of total air emissions were: SO2 Flanders 47%, Wallonia 49%; NOx Flanders 19%, Wallonia 29%; non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) Flanders 49%, Wallonia approximately 23%; carbon monoxide (CO) Flanders 25%, Wallonia 5%; CO2 Belgium 25%. Main pollutants handled at the Federal level are asbestos (controlled by the Ministry of Labour), persistent organic pollutants (POPs) including biphenyl-polychlorinated terphenyl (PCB-PCT), bio-cumulated pesticides (Ministry of Agriculture), and benzene (Federal Ministry of Public Health).

Belgium has no reliable data on green industries, due mainly to a lack of definition in this sector. The European Commission (DG XI) opposes the OECD/Eurostat definition of eco-business. They prefer a broader concept that shows that environmental legislation has also a positive effect for business. The European Community (EC) does not allow member states to provide subsidies for "end-of-pipe" equipment industries (waste recycling, air and water epuration, etc). The recycling industry accounts for 0.1% of GDP and 1% of employment. Green industry sectors account for approximately 0.8% of GDP and 2% of employment including indirect employment. A 1996 study "Employment and Environment" by the Federal State Secretary included an analysis of green industries in Belgium. Results for employment are: recycling activities 2,900 jobs; exploitation, wastewater treatment, water distribution 7,700 jobs; production of environmental tools 1,700 jobs; and restoration (purification, renewing, cleaning) 7,700 jobs. According to the National Industry Federation, the fall in environmental investment through the reduction in available finances is due to the need to meet the Maastricht budgetary criteria; the relationship between employment and environment (new jobs are created in the environmental sector, but industry as a whole is losing jobs); and the need for appropriate education/training for both young people and existing staff.

In the Wallonia Region, investments in "end-of-pipe technologies" are mainly foreign direct investment (FDI) projects by foreign and multinational companies. Public regional policy promotes rational upstream investments in clean technologies, the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) or the International Standards Organization standard ISO 14000. Implementation means include permits, tax refunding, etc. The Flemish Region promotes ecological business activities through: improving the functioning of environmental markets (eco-management and auditing legislation/EMAS); grants for green investments (energy saving) and special loans for cleaner technologies; fiscal measures including environmental taxes and levies on wastewater and water use; regular consultations with target groups; establishment of an Association for Energy and Environment Technology; support for environmental R&D (energy saving, renewable resources, cleaner production, green products); specialized environmental training for environmental officials and coordinators; sectoral policies including the development and use of renewable energy; and green investment subsidies and aid for training for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

In Belgium, the climate, hydrography, and water management have provided a sufficient supply of industrial freshwater to date. However, a growing concern for industry is the access to groundwater, which is becoming a diminishing resource. In the Flemish Region, industry is responsible for 69.2% of the non-household use of water. Within the Walloon Region, 80% of all freshwater (ground and surface water) is used by industry (68% for electricity generation, 20% for other industries, 11% for households, and 0.5% for irrigation). For the Brussels Region the figures are not significative.

Although recent data indicate that the pollution of freshwater by industry is a major problem, it is diminishing as a result of actions undertaken by companies themselves, in downstream actions (wastewater treatment, end-of-pipe filters), and upstream prevention (groundwater rational use, new technologies, EMAS, ISO 14000). Since discharge data are being structurally collected in view of wastewater taxes, more than 75% of all industrial discharges in the Flemish Region have registered a decrease. It has to be pointed out that the importance of the industry as a polluter of freshwater depends on the pollutant. In the Flemish Region, 50% of the total discharges of COD after treatment is attributed to industry, as is 80% of total cadmium, and 20% of total copper. The importance of industry as a major water polluter also depends on the sub-sector.

The petroleum industry takes care of its own water treatment and does not cause problems. In the chemical industry, which is mostly in the Flemish Region, acids and chlorine compound emissions into water are still being recorded. The ferro-industry and the non-ferro sector SMEs (Wallonia & Flemish Regions) are responsible for solvent and heavy metal (arsenic, cadmium, chrome, nickel, lead) pollution.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

Various INTERNET sites cover the role of industry in Belgium. The information includes:

Industrial discharge and surface water quality data; energy use and energy price; environmental permits; regulations & legislation; prevention measures; clean technologies; industrial joint ventures; and industrial discharge agreements and licences.

Research and Technologies  

No information is available

Financing  

No information is available

Cooperation  

Since 1993, the regions have been competent to enter international conventions dealing with regional matters. For mixed conventions concerning both regional and federal competences, a cooperation agreement determines the procedure to be applied. With regard to the EU, coordination is provided by the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

With regard to other international organizations, the Regions may appoint a delegate, but the Belgian point of view must be determined following mutual consultation procedures and be channelled to the organization by the Federal State.

Belgium's First National Communication on Greenhouse Gas Emission, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change (UNFCCC), reports an inventory and projection of industrial emissions of principal greenhouse gases by different sectors, including the industrial sector. An update to Belgium's First National Communication dates from August 1997. Under the framework of the United Nations Environment Programme/Food and Agriculture Organization (UNEP/FAO) prior informed consent (PIC) voluntary agreement, the EU has established an international legally binding instrument (Council Regulation EEC/2455/92) concerning the export and import of chemicals which are banned or severely restricted on account of their effects on human health and the environment. Exports must be notified to the Commission, which assigns a reference number. Since the Regulation entered into force, Belgium has requested three reference numbers EC/201-861-7/CA, EC/201-861-7/P1/CH, and EC/201-861-7/P2/CH.

The provisions of the Regulation are in effect at the National level through the December 21, 1994 Act, which contains legal measures in case of non-compliance.

Belgium reporting to international agencies includes: radioactive waste from nuclear reactors to the INEA; an annual report on energy policy in Belgium, including chapters on "Energy and Environment" and "Rational Use of the Energy Industrial Sector" to the International Energy Agency (IEA); monthly statistics on production and consumption of oil products, and coal and natural gas to Eurostat and the IEA; and sulphur emissions, and eco-taxes, charges, levies including industrial levies to OECD. An Energy Audit of Belgium was completed in 1997 by AIE. Similarly, an Environmental Performance Review of Belgium was completed in 1997-98 under the auspices of OECD.

At the regional level, most of the legal provisions concerning preventive and curative controls for the management of water, air, waste, and natural resources/areas are part of the national transposition of the EU legal framework (Directives and Council regulations).

Belgium currently reports to the European Commission on these matters. At the Federal level, the management of new chemical products and hazardous substances are part of binding harmonized processes at the EU level which require close cooperation and consultation among Member States, as well as mutual control through the exchange of relevant information. This collaboration between Member States is coordinated by the European Commission. Within Belgian implementation of the European Commission's ExternE project, Belgium has contributed to scientific research on the external costs of fuel cycles in electricity generation. Results are reported to the European Commission, DG XII.

* * *

This information was provided by the Government of Belgium to the fifth and sixth sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: January 1998.

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TRANSPORT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

No information is available

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

Industry and transport are the major targets of government efforts to use new and environmentally sound technologies. The Federal Government is addressing aspects such as the cost-effectiveness of alternative transportation systems, and the environmental impacts and safety of transportation technologies. Flemish traffic policy is aimed at improving safety, the efficient transport of passengers and goods to reduce traffic congestion, and the development of an environmentally sound transportation system. Railroads and inland waterways are to be developed as alternative transportation systems. The goal of Wallonia's transportation policy is to reduce energy consumption and detrimental environmental impacts. Overall, progress has been slight to fair in improving the transportation systems in Belgium.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

No information is available

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies  

No information is available

Financing  

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Belgium to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

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SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

Belgium is a federal state, and therefore there is no institution responsible for tourism at the national level. Tourism and environmental issues belong to the competencies of the regions.

Flemish region

The institution Toerisme Vlaanderen is responsible for tourism in the Flemish region. There are plans to transfer a part of tourism issues to the Flemish Administration of Economy. Environment issues belong to the Administration for the Management of Environment, Nature, Countryside and Water (AMINAL) of the Ministry of the Flemish Community.

Periodic consultations take place between the AMINAL Nature Division, the Waterways Coast Division of the Administration for Water Infrastructure and Sea of the Ministry of the Flemish Community and the Toerisme Vlaanderen institution related to the integrated coastal zone management. One of the major items discussed is the illegal camping-grounds in protected coastal dune sites. Toerisme Vlaanderen also participates to the administrative task-force of the Steering Committee on Integrated Coastal Zone Management. (See the section on oceans and seas.)

At the provincial level of the Flemish region, the Provincial Federation is the responsible body for tourism issues. In the Province of Western Flanders, the Westvlaamse Vereniging voor Vrije Tijd (WVT) institution promotes nature-oriented tourism and recreation. At the municipal level, the Municipal Tourist Services, Intercommunal Tourist Services and the VVV association (Vereniging voor Vreemdelingen-Verkeer) deal with tourism issues.

Wallonia region

Minister of Financing and Economy is responsible for tourism. The Office for Tourism (Commissariat Général au Tourisme, CGT) is part of the Directorate-General of Economy and Employment (Direction Générale de l’Economie et de l’Emploi, DGEE). The environmental issues are dealt with in the Directorate-General of Natural Resources and Environment (Direction Générale des Ressources Naturelles et de l’Environnement, DGRNE), and land management issues belong to Directorate-General of Land Management and Housing (Direction Générale de l’Aménagement du Territoire, du Logement et le Patrimoine (DGATLP).

In the provinces, the Provincial Federation is responsible for tourism. There are also specific tourist offices and associations at the local level.

In the German speaking territory, the administration of the German speaking Community is responsible for tourism issues.

Brussels region

In the French speaking part of the region, the Commission Communautaire Française (CoCoF) is responsible for tourism. In the Dutch speaking part, tourism issues belong to the Ministry of Culture and Brussels Affairs.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations 

Flemish region

The Decree on Nature Conservation and the Natural Environment of 21 October 1997 provides the possibility for the designation of areas as nature reserves and for the elaboration of management plans for these nature reserves. These plans are developed to organise, among other things, the recreational use of the nature areas. The nature-reserves are usually divided into parts that are permanently accessible for the public and parts that are accessible only for guided visits.

The legislation concerning camping-grounds takes into account their spatial location. The camping-grounds are licensed only if they are situated in areas that are specially designated for residential recreation by the Town and Country Planning.

Major development projects (such as the expansion of a marina) nearby protected natural areas or other sensitive areas are subject to environmental impact assessments.

To control damaging practices the wardens of the AMINAL-Nature Division and the AMINAL-Forest-Division of the Ministry of the Flemish Community monitor nature reserves and forests. In the Provinces surveillance is assured by the wardens of the Provincial Service responsible for green areas.

The Association of Belgian Tour-Operators (ABTO) has elaborated a set of Environmental Behaviour Guidelines that are published in a brochure and distributed to tourists.

Wallonia region

Legislative framework exists that supports sustainable tourism in several sectors. The following activities, inter alia, are supported by subventions: waste water treatment installations, work on renovating infrastructure aiming at rational use use of energy, and building and maintaining infrastructure for recreation. At the local level, particular regulations have been set to limit the adverse impacts of certain type of tourism.

Measures are being developed monitor the progress of tourism development in order to make the necessary corrections or revisions to ensure sustainability. Penalties for damaging environmental practices are provided in legislation.

Private associations have elaborated specific guidelines or criteria for tourism. These include an ‘eco check list’ for hostels, WWF criteria for lodgement, and quality criteria in some villages (e.g. in Durbuy). The German speaking Community has set a code of best practice for the hotel industry and uses environmental criteria in the evaluation of summer camps sites. Furthermore, codes of conducts have been agreed for the use of rocks and cavities for climbing on private land.

Brussels region

Monitoring of tourism activities in the Brussels region is under development.

Certain hotels implement good environmental practices developed by private initiatives. Since 1998, the IBGE project has utilised a label ‘Eco-dynamic enterprises’ directed to, for example, hotels and congress centres in Brussels.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans  

At the present, there is no systematic integration between tourism and environment at the regional policy level. There are no specific national or regional strategies on sustainable tourism.

Flemish region

The Toerisme Vlaanderen has elaborated a Strategic Plan Tourism Flanders that pursues sustainable development. The Flemish Government promotes a Coastal Action Plan with financial incentives to tourism infrastructure in some coastal municipalities. However, environmental and conservation aspects are not fully taken into consideration in this plan. The Environment and Nature Policy Plan, MINA-plan 2 approved by the Flemish Government has elements that relate to tourism issues.

Sustainable tourism and eco-tourism are included in the local tourism policies called Provincial Strategic Planning for Tourism that some provinces have developed. Eco-tourism is mainly promoted by the conservation and forestry policies. Legislation provides a basis for the designation of ‘Regional Landscapes’ that promote landscape measures and eco-tourism.

Wallonia region

The Environmental Plan for Sustainable Development, adopted by the Government in 1995, includes a chapter on tourism. The objectives for sustainable tourism in Wallonia are to:

  1. Develop quality tourism, taking into consideration local aspects and environment, especially considering that tourism industry can be exercised in the protected areas only if its long-term impacts are sustainable;
  2. Take into consideration and contribute to the protection and valuing of natural and cultural resources; and
  3. Improve lodgement facilities, taking into account esthetical aspects of buildings (harmony with nature), as well as possibilities for employment that farm lodgement may create in rural areas.

An Action Programme for the Protection of Environment, that includes actions to reduce pressure on nature and for awareness raising, is planned. Definition of objectives for good spatial planning is also in process.

Brussels region

The voluntary Action Programme for Sustainable Development of the Brussels Region, developed by BRAT for the Institute of Environmental Management (IBGE) in 1997, includes a chapter on promotion of environment and tourism that addresses environmental issues when organising conferences and other events, and better management of urban natural areas.

Decision-Making: Major Groups Involvement   

Flemish region

The Environment and Nature Conservation Council, MINA-Raad, is an advisory body to the Flemish Minister of the Environment. All the major social and economic groups are represented in this council, including NGOs, workers and unions, business and industry, scientific and technological community and farmers.

The Decree of 21 October 1997 on Nature Conservation and the Natural Environment imposes the establishment of an advisory commission for the management of each nature reserve. In these advisory commissions, the local authorities (provinces and municipalities), the local NGOs as well as scientists are represented. The commissions give their view on the use of the nature reserves for recreation and eco-tourism. It is obligatory that at least 1/3 of the members of all advisory organs are women.

Furthermore, the Flemish Council for Tourism, in which most of the above mentioned groups are represented, give views on all main tourism policy topics.

Wallonia region

Several initiatives have been taken by NGOs to develop tourism products that promote sustainability. Environmental NGOs, especially nature conservationists, organise nature exploration tours in natural parks and train nature guides. Farmers promote farm tourism and local farm products. Young people participate in decision-making concerning especially their open-air activities and camps.  

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

ROLE OF TOURISM IN ECONOMY

Tourism represents 5.5 % of the GDP and provides 100,000 jobs in Flanders. In the Brussels region, the total turn over in the tourism industry was 140 milliards FB tourism and it provided 32,000 and jobs in 3,500 enterprises.

In the Wallonia regions tourism provides some 42,000 jobs. The development in the days spent in hotels per year (in thousands) is shown in the following:

1985: 31,140

1990: 36,839

1995: 28,010

1996: 28,729

1997: 28,522

Activities in the Flemish region

One of the actions of the Coastal Action Plan is plan is the further development of the marina of Nieuwpoort. As a compensation for the increased pressure caused by the expansion of the yachting-harbour on the nearby natural site of the Yzer delta, the acquisition by the Flemish region of about thirty hectares of polders, adjacent to the salt marshes and dunes is planned. These polder grounds should be managed as salt wetland-meadows and high-tide refuges for the wading birds of the nearby salt marshes.

In 1997, a LIFE nature project Integral Coastal Conservation Initiative was established. It is partly funded by the European Community, and its partners are the AMINAL-Nature Division of the Ministry of the Flemish Community, the Mathematical Unit Management of the North Sea, and two NGOs (Belgische Natuur- en Vogelreservaten vzw and World Wide Fund for Nature vzw). Human activities and their impact on the environment in Trapegeer- Stroombank (sandbanks in the shallow sea) are assessed within this project. Based on the assessments, possible management measures will be proposed for the conservation of this marine site, and where feasible, for the restoration of the natural values of the site. Due to the economic importance of tourism along the Belgian coast, the restoration of dunes, beaches and shallows to their original ecological function is difficult. Animals that require undisturbed beaches, such as some bird species and seals, have virtually disappeared. Possibilities to establish integral nature reserves, including both terrestrial and marine parts of the coastal ecosystem, are investigated.

Marinas are well equipped to deal with garbage. The main negative impacts on the environment result from yachting that disturbs wintering seabirds and of foraging and breeding wading birds along the shore of the Yzer delta. It is not allowed to use a jet-ski in Belgian waters.

In 1998, the AWZ-Waterways Coast Division of the Ministry of the Flemish Community started a TERRA project on Integrated Management of the Flemish Coast. The project examines the possibility of removing unlicensed camping grounds from dune areas that are important for coastal protection.

Both the TERRA and LIFE projects are part of the Demonstration Program on Integrated Coastal Zone Management of the European Commission.

There is a need for a drinking water supply plan. A large part of the drinking water of the sea resorts along the Flemish coast originates from the ground water reserves of the dunes, especially during the top season in summer. This leads to a decline of habitats and species on humid dune slacks.

Examples of activities related to eco-tourism and nature based tourism include guided walking-tours in nature reserves and forests organised by the municipalities and NGOs in collaboration with AMINAL-Nature Division and -Forest Division, special events such as the ‘open nature reserve day’ or ‘the week of the forest’, plans for afforestation of areas near coastal resorts (Blankenberge, Oostende, Nieuwpoort) to create recreational areas, the ‘Green Flanders’campaign promoted by Toerisme Vlaanderen, and farm-tourism promoted by the Federation for Countryside Tourism.

In the Flemish region, the major negative impact of tourism and recreation is the intensive use of some sensitive environments (e.g. the coastal dunes and beaches) that can cause damage to natural values and threaten some species and habitats.

Activities in the Wallonia region

Actions related to sustainable tourism can be divided into two categories:

  1. Promotion of certain products including the development of rural and farm lodging, promotion of sustainable tourism in natural parks and riversides, and development of a specific network of paths for hiking, cycling and horse-back riding; and
  2. Reducing negative impacts of tourism by regulations for holiday resorts, waste water, solid waste collection, recreation in forests and on water areas, and for use of rocks and cavities (on private land) for climbing.

Examples of the ways in which eco-tourism and nature-based tourism is being promoted include guided tours in forests, organised study-tours to explore nature in natural parks, local initiatives to promote quality tourism, cultural events, recycling facilities, annual ‘Day of Heritage’, campaign of the German speaking Community to improve environmental practices related to reducing waste and water consumption, certification of hotels and other lodgement by the specific WWF environmental criteria, audit and renovation of camping places, and the initiative on the most beautiful villages of Wallonia.

The positive impacts of tourism to sustainable development incude:

The negative impacts of tourism are related to:

Activities in the Brussels region

Since 1998, an IBGE project labels ‘Eco-dynamic enterprises in Brussels’ including e.g. hotels and congress centres. Another IBGE project aims to raise public awareness by the ‘Brussels – the Green City’ programme.

Challenges  

The major constraints for implementing sustainable tourism in the Flemish region are the following:

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

Flemish region

The Centre of Nature-Education organises each year lectures for the training of nature guides. These lectures are attended benevolently.

The Ministry of the Flemish Community, especially the AMINAL-Nature Division and the AMINAL-Forest Division have both established visitor centres near to their main nature reserves or forests.

Wallonia region

Several institutions organise training of eco-counsellors. These courses are usually addressed to persons having a university degree or the background of a nature guide. Various association offer courses and other activities related to environment to public, and especially young people. The primary school curricula include environmental courses’. In Libramont, a professional degree is offered on rural tourism.

An information campaign on the code of good practice has been lanced. It is aimed to all practices in the nature and includes 400,000 examples. A specific green campaign, initiated by Fondation Roi Baudouin, was carried out directed to young people.

Several centres use literature to promote sustainable tourism. There are regional centres (e.g in Bérinzenne and Hotemme), provincial centres (e.g. in Chevetogne) and private centres established by nature conservation associations (e.g. in Virelles).

The Tourism Promotion Office carries out information campaigns under a slogan ‘Ardennes, nature and culture’ aimed to promoting the exploration of both natural and cultural heritage. Regulations for access to forests and water courses emphasise also that nature-based tourism has an aspect of finding silence in nature.

The German speaking Community has carried out a specific campaign on sustainable tourism addressed particularly to young people. Information signs have peen put in place in the areas that are frequently visited. Furthermore, environmental guides are published and distributed to tourists.

Brussels region

The Open University of Brussels (IGEAT) offers a degree in tourism. The studies cover also environmental issues. A project is going on to train the implementation of Environmental Management Auditing System (EMAS) in hotels. IBGE is preparing brochures on environmental management for hotels and for Bed and Breakfast places.

Information   

The Federal Belgian OSTC service of the Prime Minister has a project on the evaluation of the impact of climate change in Belgium. Tourism is one of the sectors to be analysed in the project.

Flemish region

Bond Beter Leefmilieu (NGO) has published a brochure, Tourism and Environment. Governmental agencies have no publications to promote sustainable tourism.

The AMINAL-Nature Division of the Ministry of the Flemish Community produced in 1996 an inventory of the natural resources and ecosystem characteristics of the Flemish Coast, including maps, under the title "Ecosystem Perspective for the Flemish Coast".

According to the Environment and Nature Conservation Policy Plan, the MINA-plan 2, ecosystem perspectives should be elaborated for all eco-geographical districts of the Flemish region. As the coastal zone is the region with the highest number of problems related to intensive tourism, an ecosystem-perspective was first drawn for this region.

Special occasions such as the ‘open nature-reserve day’ or ‘the week of the forests’ are promoted by AMINAL in collaboration with NGOs by leaflets, TV-spots, and articles in the newspapers.

Wallonia region

Initiatives on information to promote sustainable tourism include an audit on tourism (Raynaud, 1987), reports by provincial tourism organisations, publications by NGOs such as Inter-Environnement Wallonie and WWF, and information on new tourism products launched e.g. by Fondation Roi Baudouin.

The Wallonia region has launched an inventory and follow-up programme on biodiversity. A databank has been set up containing information on both protected and non-protected natural. Natural resources are continuously assessed in the natural parks. In addition a study is underway for compiling environmental indicators of the region.

More information can be obtained through the following links:

Site carrefour de la région wallonne

Site de la Direction générale des Resources Naturelles et de l’Environnement

Site Biodiversité

Site d’information sur la circulation sur les cours d’eau

Site Office de Promotion du Tourisme

Brussels region

State of the Environment of the Brussels region (1996) study was carried out by IBGE. It contains maps of natural sites access to public and information on valuable biological sites and protected areas. Efforts are underway to develop indicators for urban development, including possible an indicator related to tourism.

Research and Technologies  

Federal level

The Federal Service OSTC of the Prime Minister supports a scientific research-project on analysing and monitoring social practices that determine the demand for mobility (Transport-Tourism behaviour).

Flemish region

The MINA-plan 2 has put the restoration of the eco-hydrological system of the coastal dunes forward as a priority action. In 1999, a scientific project called Integrated Water Supply and Nature Development Plan for the Western Coast (GWEN) will be started up by the AMINAL as a pilot project in the western part of the Flemish coast.

It is planned that camping and hotel industry would get grants for environmentally friendly measures such as the use of solar energy systems.

Wallonia region

Technology initiatives are mostly local, and include improvement of the water distribution system, especially during the tourist season, recycling, and provision of supplementary trains to frequently visited destinations.

Financing  

In the Flemish region, e.g. the establishment of visitor centres is financed by a specific the Fund for the Environment and Nature (MINA-fonds). Environmentally friendly measures in camping grounds are financed by grants.

In the Walloon region the activities are financed by regional subsidies.

Cooperation  

Related to mapping of natural resources and ecosystem characteristics in tourist areas, the Federal Belgian OSTC service of the Prime Minister supports the following TELSAT research projects in developing countries:

- Baseline information system development for sustainable forest management planning, including zone mapping for diverse functions of forests, one of them being eco-tourism (Kalimantan, Indonesia);

- Management support information system for protected areas, ECOFAC Site (Congo),

- Project Impact Assessment Study (Burkina Faso);

- Environmental accounting for mangrove ecosystems with UNEP (Kenya); and

- Tourist information system based on remote sensing and GIS (Hangzou, China).

Regional cooperation examples by the Flemish region include:

- Trans-boundary activities such as the establishment of visitor-centres in the coastal dunes near the French border (e.g. at De Panne), often financed by the European Community programmes;

- A collaboration-protocol is in elaboration between the French Conservatoire du Littoral and Département du Nord, the Province of Western Flanders and the Flemish Region for the protection, management and use of the coastal natural areas for eco-tourism in Dunkercque and Nieuwpoort; and

- An Euregion project of "Krekenland-Zwinstreek" in collaboration between the Flemish region, Netherlands, Province of Western Flanders and Province of Zeeland.

Examples by the Walloon region include:

- Trans-boundary natural parks (Sûre (Luxembourg), Scarpe-Escaut, Croix-Scaille (France);

- EU INTERREG Programme in Hainaut, Nord Pas de Calais, Picardie/Wallonie and Champagne-Ardennes;

- Euroregion prgramme ‘Meuse Rhin’; and

- The Hautes Fagnes – Eifel park that is a part of an EU pilot project aimed at sustainable tourism in protected areas.

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This information was provided by the Government of Belgium to the 7th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: January 1999



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