Tuesday, 18 August 2020
A framework for a National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) was agreed on in April 2014, however due to the adoption of the 2030ASD the NSDS has been adjusted in September 2016. Being a federal state, adopting and adjusting the NSDS required the coordination between the Federal State, the Communities (Flemish, French and German-speaking) and the Regions (Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels-Capital). Art. 7bis of the Belgian Constitution establishes that every federal entity is pursuing the objectives of a sustainable development, in its social, economic and environmental dimensions, taking into account solidarity between generations. The federal entities are on an equal footing but have different competences. The implementation of the SDGs is therefore a shared responsibility between these authorities taking into account their respective competences.
To achieve the NSDS and promote coherence in the implementation of sustainable development policy in Belgium, an Inter-Ministerial Conference for Sustainable Development (IMCSD) was established in 2012, gathering together the respective ministers in charge of sustainable development and other relevant ministers like the minister of development coordination and regional prime ministers. The updated NSDS was approved in 2017, following a civil consultation process with the relevant stakeholders. It provides the umbrella framework for the main government stakeholders at both federal and federated levels to combine their efforts to achieve the SDGs. The NSDS sets out how the various authorities in Belgium should cooperate and link their strategies to ensure that they are coherent with the SDGs (UN-DESA, 2017).
As a federal state, Belgium also has a Federal Strategy for Sustainable development and Regional Strategies for Sustainable Development, which all have the same status.
The federal sustainable development strategy is defined by the Act of May 1997, and revised in 2010. It outlines a ‘report-plan-do-check-act-cycle’ and the mutually supporting roles of three institutions to prepare, adopt, implement and improve SD Policies:
- The Interdepartmental Commission for Sustainable Development (ICSD), which is in charge of the planning and monitoring part of the process; supported since 2002 by the Federal Public Planning Service for SD, transformed in 2013 into the Federal Institute for Sustainable Development
- The Task Force on Sustainable Development (TFSD) of the Federal Planning Bureau (FPB) in charge of the reporting part on current situation and policy evaluations and on forecasting
- And the Federal Council for Sustainable Development (FCSD), as the stakeholders advisory council, to organize the participation of major groups to SD policy-making.
The 2010 revision of the Act of May 1997 defines a federal Long Term Vision (LTV) on sustainable development. This LTV was adopted by Royal Decree in 2013. It contains 55 long term (2050) objectives and proposes a set of indicators to report on the progress towards reaching these objectives. The LTV is the reference framework for the federal Strategy on SD and the activities of the institutions defined in this Act.
The Act of May 97 also calls for the preparation of Federal Plans for Sustainable Development and federal Reports on Sustainable development.
As a consequence of the institutional setup of Belgium, the objectives of the Federal Plan for Sustainable Development (FPSD) only concern the federal and not the regional level. The first Federal Plan for Sustainable Development (FPSD) was valid for the period 2000-04, prepared by the TFSD of the FPB and further elaborated by the ICSD. The second FPSD was scheduled to run from 2004-08 and prepared by the ICSD. This second FPSD has been extended due to the revision of the Parliamentary Act of May 1997 and remains the last FPSD to be adopted to date.the current federal SD Plan. A draft of third plan had been prepared in 2008 but first delayed: revising the Act in 2010 to simplify certain instruments led to long discussions, and eventually cancellation because in 2011 the ICSD needed time to prepare the LTV. As such it was not possible to update the draft of the third plan. January 2016 a forth draft has been prepared by the ICSD and presented presented to the federal government but not adopted. Currently the fifth FPSD is being prepared on administrative level and will be presented to the government, once a full-functioning federal government is in place.
Nine Federal Reports on Sustainable Development have been published from 1999 to 2019 by the Federal Planning Bureau and serve as a basis for the Federal Plans. The reports are communicated to the federal minister in charge of SD, as well as to the ICSD, the Council of Ministers, the legislative chambers, the Federal Council for Sustainable Development (FCSD), the governments of the regional authorities as well as to all official international organizations which were established as a result of or were associated with the multilateral SD Conferences. The last report “Which priority for sustainable development?” was published in June 2019. Belgium is committed to achieving all global sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. It therefore assesses 51 indicators (17 more than in the previous report) showing the evolution of Belgium towards the SDGs. Without new measures, many of these objectives will not be achieved. The federal authorities have implemented concrete actions related to sustainable development issues, although there was no political impetus to achieve the SDGs. The reports are publicly available.
In September 2008, the Flemish government adopted a decree for SD. This decree guarantees the continuation of a horizontal policy for SD and the development of a strategy for SD every legislature.
The first Flemish strategy for SD was developed in 2006, to a large extent based upon the thematic priorities of the European SD strategy (EU SDS).The second Flemish strategy for SD was adopted on 29 April 2011. Based upon the experiences and the intense revision of the first strategy for SD, the second strategy for SD has resulted in a strategic note with a long term vision and objectives that incorporate the existing action plans of the Flemish Government (Flanders in Action, Pact 2020) for the short and medium term. The idea being that an effective strategy for SD should link, strengthen, inspire and align existing plans.
In March 2016, the Flemish Government presented its new strategic outlook for the future: “Vision 2050: a long-term strategy for Flanders”. This forward-looking policy document sets out a vision for an inclusive, open, resilient and internationally connected region that creates prosperity and well-being for its citizens in a smart, innovative and sustainable manner. The third Flemish Strategy for SD is integrated in this long term strategy. For this, the evaluation of the previous Flemish Strategy for SD was taken into account.
Vision 2050 is supported by several key areas of action (‘transition priorities’) initiated by the Flemish Government:
- Circular economy
- Smart living
- Industry 4.0
- Lifelong learning and a dynamic professional career
- Healthcare and welfare
- Transport and mobility
The implementation of these transition priorities will be cross-sectoral and in collaboration with innovators, entrepreneurs and stakeholders. Therefore a new governance model was developed, inspired by transition management principles.
In 2019, a preliminary set of 48 Flemish goals – based on the SDGs - was agreed by the Flemish government. This set of 2030 goals for Flanders, called ‘Focus 2030’, will be measured by a set of region-specific indicators.
The Walloon Government adopted in 2013 a decree on the Walloon sustainable development strategy that foresees the elaboration of such a strategy every legislature and determines its key elements (state of the art, vision, transition paths, action plan).
This decree was amended on 30 April 2019 to include the sustainable food strategy as one of the thematic transitions necessary to achieve sustainable development and to foresee in the future the definition of other thematic transitions to be included in the Walloon strategy for sustainable development. The decree is now entitled "Decree of 27 June 2013 on the Walloon strategy for sustainable development and transition themes emanating from it".
According to the decree and following a first strategy adopted in October 2013, the second Walloon sustainable development strategy was adopted on the 7th of July 2016.
This second strategy aims at putting in concrete form some paths of transition and contributes to the implementation of the 2030 SD Agenda and the SDGs. It also aims at improving the social responsibility and the exemplary nature of the public services in Wallonia.
The strategy includes 4 chapters:
- The first chapter provides a long term vision by 2050 around the following four axes: living in Wallonia, living in the world, living beyond 2050 and governance. It gives direction to all the Walloon actors to continue the transition to a sustainable development in Wallonia.
- The second chapter consists in a diagnosis which describes the current situation in Wallonia using 40 indicators.
- The third chapter deals with short and mid-term objectives. Given the international agenda, the SDGs are used in this framework.
- The fourth chapter includes a focused action plan which complements other existing and future plans such as the 4.0 Marshall plan (revival plan developed for the Walloon economy) or the plan to fight poverty. It comprises 100 actions related to the shift in consumption and production patterns in food, energy and resources and to cross-cutting tools such as participative dynamics, information and awareness raising, education and research, social responsibility of private and public organizations, sustainable public procurement and involvement of Wallonia at the international level.
The 3rd Walloon sustainable development strategy is under preparation, to be adopted by the Walloon Government in 2022. This strategy will integrate quantified targets related to SDGs, fitted to the regional context. A proposal of action plan will be elaborated participatively with different stakeholders : a new structure named « Walloon Partnership for a sustainable development » will be established in the autumn 2021.
The Brussels Region has undergone profound changes and is now facing new challenges such as rapid demographic growth, employment, training and education, poverty, environment, mobility and internationalization.
On 5 December 2013, the Government adopted a draft of the Regional Sustainable Development Plan. This plan is a strategic tool to address the challenges mentioned above in a comprehensive and coherent manner. It sets priorities to make the Brussels-Capital Region more attractive, more inclusive socially, economically, more competitive, more creative in research, greener and efficient in the use of energy and resources.
Between 13 January and 13 March 2017, the Brussels Government held a public inquiry into the new draft of the Regional Sustainable Development Plan (RSDP). It sets priorities to make the Brussels-Capital Region more attractive, more inclusive socially and economically, more competitive, more creative in research, and greener and more efficient in its use of energy and resources
The Brussels-Capital Region defined its vision for 2040 by adopting the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD) in July 2018. The regional plan for sustainable development aims to provide an appropriate response to the above challenges and concerns facing Brussels as a divers and dynamic urban area. The RSDP defines the general framework to be considered when drawing up and implementing relevant thematic plans/strategies. Among these thematic plans/strategies: “Good Food Brussels”, Brussels Regional Programme for a Circular Economy, Nature Plan, Good Move Plan, Innovation Plan, etc.
German speaking community
The Regional Development Concept (REK: Regionales Entwicklungskonzept) was conceived as a long term strategy for the German-Speaking government, without any kind of legal basis. The process was initiated in May 2008 with a comprehensive stock-taking and regional analysis, whereby the strengths and weaknesses, chances and challenges of the DG were closely examined. On the basis of this study, strategic approaches and concrete recommendations were then identified in a wide-ranging round of talks with the key stakeholders. The results of this participatory dialogue were crystallized into a mission statement which characterized the DG as a Frontier Region, an Economic Region, a Learning Region, a Caring Region and a Living Region. The mission statement was published as REK volumes 1 and 2. In September 2019 the third REK was published and contains the sustainable development goals for the region for the period 2019-2024.
The national SD strategy has long term goals inspired by the 2030ASD which are pursued by all federal authorities. It provides coherence for strategies elaborated by every Belgian authorities.
The federal SD strategy is a ‘report-plan-do-check-act-cycle’ governed by law. It outlines a program of measures (Federal Plan SD) the Federal Government has to implement in view of its international and European engagements relating to sustainable development, as well as to the objectives contained in the long-term vision for SD. It focusses on interdepartmental cooperations between federal ministries.
The Flanders SD strategy is a long-term strategy which focuses on several key areas of action initiated by the Flemish Government: the seven transition priorities. It endorses the 17 SDG’s.
The Wallonia SD strategy is a long-term and broad strategy which includes a more targeted action plan, focused on changing consumption and production patterns in 3 fields (food, energy and resources) and on cross-cutting tools. It complements other existing and future Walloon global or sector-specific plans.
The Brussels-Capital Region strategy
The regional sustainable development plan integrates the three dimensions of the sustainable development
The Interministerial Conference for Sustainable Development (IMCSD) – gathering the respective ministers in charge of SD and other relevant ministers like the minister of development coordination and regional prime ministers was established in 2012. This SD interministerial conference has been mandated to follow-up the implementation of the Agenda in Belgium including by coordinating the preparation of reports on progress made and challenges faced. The presidency used to rotate between the members on a half-year base but to ensure coherence since 2016 the rotation will happen on an annual base. At this moment Flanders has taken up the presidency. After 2017, however, IMCSD work at the political level has come to a standstill.
The fruitful interactions of the above mentioned ICSD, TFSD and FCSD in the short and long run are placed under the authority of the Minister or Secretary of State on Sustainable Development, supported by the Federal Institute for Sustainable Development (FISD – formerly known as Federal Public Planning Service for SD).
Federal Institute for Sustainable Development
Cédric Van de Walle (coordinator strategy & planning)
phone: +32 (2) 501 04 69
Federal Planning Bureau, Task force Sustainable development
Alain Henry (coordinator)
phone: +32 (2) 507 74 76
Flemish Government, Department of Public Governance and the Chancellery,
Sustainable Development Unit
Ilse Dries (Director)
Boudewijnlaan 30, bus 20, room 7A17
Tel. 02-553 54 44 - Fax 02-553 59 59
The directorate on Sustainable Development was set up in July 2012 by the Walloon Government. It is under the General Secretariat of the Walloon administration.
Directorate of Sustainable Development
Public Service of Wallonia - Secretariat General
Place Joséphine Charlotte, 2
5100 Jambes (Namur)
Natacha ZUINEN (Head of Department)
phone: +32 (0) 81.321.543
The Brussels-Capital region
Anne SAUDMONT Bruxelles Environnement - IBGE
Div. Information, Coordination générale, Economie circulaire
Département international et juridique
Site de Tour & Taxis
Avenue du Port 86C/3000 B-1000 Bruxelles
phone : +32 (2) 563.43.93
The German speaking community
Daniel Hilligsmann (Berater)
Regierung der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft
Kabinett des Ministerpräsidenten, Oliver Paasch
Postanschrift: Klötzerbahn 32, B-4700 Eupen
Amtssitz des Ministerpräsidenten: Gospertstraße 42, B-4700 Eupen
Tel. +32 (0)87 789 631, Fax +32 (0) 87 786 722
Internet: www.oliver-paasch.be / www.dglive.be