Appendix 1: Actors for biodiversity in Belgium
Each level of the Belgian government, whether Federal, Regional, Community or local, has some responsibility for biodiversity issues. Nevertheless, the competences for biodiversity mostly lie with the three Regions - Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels. Many different actors will take an active part in the implementation of the Strategy: ministries and administrations, advisory and consultative bodies, research institutes, NGOs, information centres, individuals and community groups, etc.
An overview of responsibilities and contact details of the major actors for biodiversity in Belgium will be available on the CHM website (http://www.biodiv.be). This appendix elaborates specifically on (1) ministries and administrations, (2) advisory and consultative bodies, and (3) research institutes.
1.1. Ministries and administrations
All the services of the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community are concentrated in one ministry, which consists of several departments, divided into administrations and sections.
The tasks and competences of the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community are divided into 13 policy areas. The implementation of the CBD is mainly concentrated in the policy area Environment, Nature and Energy (LNE). The LNE department plays a central role by ensuring the coordination for the preparation and reporting of the Flemish environmental policy and for the management and the follow up of the policy implementation.
Divisions within the Ministry for Environment, Nature and Energy that are important for the implementation of the CBD are:
- the Department of Environment, Nature and Energy which gathers, i.a.:
The International environmental policy (coordination of the Flemish international environmental policy),The Environment, nature and energy policy (coordination of the preparation, evaluation and argumentation of the policy),Environmental permits (including authorisations for confined use of GMOs)
- Agency for Nature and Forest (ANB): has the competence for the legal framework related to the protection, conservation measures, communication and cooperation concerning nature, forests and green spaces. It promotes sustainable forest management and strengthens nature, forest and green facilities. It manages the green areas of the Flemish Region and its partners and is responsible for the delivery of permits and derogations, and for the enforcement of regulations related to protection of habitats and species.
- Institute for Nature and Forest Research (INBO): it performs scientific research on status and trends of biodiversity, and to the development and the sustainable use of nature and forests.
Furthermore there are three public agencies each dealing with one specific environmental theme: the Flemish Land Agency (VLM) for land-use planning, the Flemish Environmental Agency (VMM) for monitoring the quality of surface water and the air, and the Flemish Public Waste Agency (OVAM), concerned with the prevention and management of waste, soils and contamination.
Besides the Environment administrations mentioned above, there are also a number of other administrations and departments that play a role in maintaining biodiversity in Belgium, for instance for transport, fishery and agriculture, spatial planning, etc.
In the Walloon Region, the Directorate-General for Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment (DGARNE) of the Ministry of the Walloon Region is in charge of the conservation of nature, the environment (in particular waste), management and protection of the soil, as well as the exploitation of natural resources like water and forests in the Walloon Region. Within the DGARNE, several administrative divisions take care of the different missions:
1. Department of Nature and Forests. This department is responsible for the ecological management of the natural environment, including the Walloon forests. This department also initiates innovative projects for nature protection outside protected areas (for example, ecological management of roadsides) and grant subsidies to encourage biodiversity-restoring actions (for example, the planting of hedgerows). Four directorates supervise the implementation of the mission mentioned above: the Directorate for General Matters, the Directorate for Forest Resources, the Directorate for Nature, and the Directorate for Hunting and Fishery.
2. Department for Permits and Authorisations (including delivery of authorisations for confined use of GMOs).
3. the Walloon Office for Waste. This office is working on the prevention, the valorisation and the elimination of wastes in order to protect the environment.
4. the Department for Water. This division works among other things on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, river contracts, restoration of aquatic habitats and riverbanks.
5. the Department for Environmental Policy. This division investigates environmental criminal offences and follows the state of the environment (through indicators).
6. Scientific support is given by the DEMNA
7. the Département de la Ruralité et des Cours d'eau (dealing with agri-environmental measures)Scientific support is also given through research agreements with several universities.
Besides the institutions above there are also several other departments and ministries that play a role in maintaining biodiversity in Belgium, for instance the 'Direction générale opérationnelle de l'Aménagement du territoire, du Logement, du Patrimoine et de l'Énergie (dealing with spatial planning), the Permanent Conference for Territorial Development (CPDT), the Direction générale opérationnelle de la Mobilité et des Voies hydrauliques (dealing with, for example, toad tunnels, tunnels for otters, fish ladders, management of the ‘RAVeL’ network).
Finally in this connection, we also need to mention the French and German Communities (dealing with environmental education).
The environmental competencies of the Brussels-Capital Region lie with the Brussels Institute for Management of the Environment (Brussels Environment), a para-regional institution that serves as the environmental administration of the Region. Since the BIME was set up in 1989, the institution has developed into an important point of contact for the local inhabitants regarding all aspects of the environment: air, green spaces, waste, water, soil pollution, etc. The Institute collects and analyses the environmental data, distributes the information, gives advice and draws up plans of action, defines strategies, intervenes in fieldwork, promotes environmental awareness, etc. Within the BIME, the Division Green Spaces, manages the public green spaces (parks, forests, semi-natural areas and nature reserves), develops the blue and green network, and is responsible for the regions' biodiversity (inventory, monitoring, strategy, management, etc.).
Besides the BIME, the Brussels administration has a Monuments and Sites Department, which manages ‘heritage’ dossiers and implements the Brussels Government’s policy in these areas. This department, among others, is responsible for classifying monuments of architectural value and also plays a role in the field of biodiversity.
Furthermore there are also several other services that play a role in maintaining biodiversity in Brussels, for instance for transport (Administration of Equipment and Displacements - AED), spatial planning (“Administration de l’Aménagement du Territoire et du Logement” - AATL), etc.
The major Federal public services that play a role in realising the objectives of the convention are:
- the Federal Public Service for Public Health, Food Security and Environment:
The Directorate-General for the Environment, through the Co-ordinating Committee for International Environmental Policy (CCIEP), streamlines the positions of the different administrations (Federal and Regional) to reach a coordinated national position. It also organises consultation processes to establish a coordinated implementation by Belgium of the decisions and recommendations made in international forums, sends delegates to these fora and gives advice on EU- and OCDE documents. The Steering Committees operating under the authority of the CCIEP that are directly relevant to biodiversity are the ‘Biodiversity Convention’, ‘Nature’, ‘Forest’ and ‘North Sea and Oceans’ Steering Committees. Other Steering Committees such as the Steering Committee on ‘Climate Change’, ‘Climate adaptation’ and on ‘Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns’ are also relevant.
The section Multilateral and Strategic Affairs is engaged in the follow-up and implementation (at the Federal level) of the CBD and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and CITES. This administration is also the national focal point for ABS and biosafety.
The section Marine Environment implements (for instance, implementation of international and European legislation, awareness raising actions, etc.), coordinates and defends the Belgian position on international and European meetings concerning the North Sea.
The Animal, Plant and Food Directorate-General of the Federal Department of Public Health, Safety of the Food Chain and the Environment is working on the trade of plants and animals through the protection against plant diseases, pesticides as well as authorizations for tests and commercialisation of GMOs and use in food and animal feed.
Besides the services above, there are also several other ministries that play a role in maintaining biodiversity in Belgium, for instance the Federal Public Service of Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy follows up the commercial aspects of biodiversity. The Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation follows up diplomatic and international aspects of the CBD. The Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DGD) executes cooperation programmes on biodiversity. It contributes financial support to the GEF Trust Fund. The Federal Public Service of Mobility and Transport has a role to play in preventing the entrance of IAS by air, sea or land. The Ministry of Defence is also an important actor as landowner (military domains).
Furthermore the federal authority is supervisory authority for the Belgian railway group.
The customs and excise administration (Federal Public Service Finances) is qualified to exercise its competences of controlling and/or determination of infringement in the domain of the CITES convention, hunting, FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade) and non-indigenous species (birds…). It also plays a part in maritime fishing matters.
Two Federal Planning Departments are also important:
- The Federal Planning Department for Sustainable Development is responsible for the preparation and the coordination of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Policy. The department organises, amongst other things, the activities of the Interdepartmental Commission for Sustainable Development (ICSD). This forum unites the representatives of all the members of the federal government and the experts from all the federal administrations. The ICSD is responsible for the editing of the Federal Plans for Sustainable Development and its public consultation. The first two plans, already partly implemented after the government’s approval in 2000 and 2004, describe different actions on interdepartmental coordination in the field of biodiversity.
- The Belgian Federal Science Policy Office, responsible for the scientific support for the Federal policy concerning sustainable development. This administration assures the financing of research activities and makes funds available for CBD implementation, for example through its programmes Global Change, North Sea, Telsat and Antarctica. It finances ten Federal scientific institutions, two of which are directly involved with biodiversity-related matters: the Royal Museum for Central Africa and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. The secretariat of the national focal point for the CBD (based at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences) receives financial support from the Federal Science Policy Office. The Belgian Biodiversity Platform is the advisory body of the Federal Science Policy Office for all issues in biodiversity research. It aims to facilitate dialogue, collaboration and interdisciplinary research between people and institutions in Belgium and abroad that work in the field of biological diversity. Furthermore, the Federal Science Policy Office coordinates important ex situ collections of micro-organisms.
The French, Flemish and German communities are
dealing with cultural matters including culture and media, education, use of languages and ‘‘person-related matters’’ such as, for instance, some aspects of health policy, youth protection or sport. The communities have their own parliament and government, although the Flemish Community and the Flemish Region are the same entity.
Communities have also a role to play with regard to the implementation of the CBD through education and public awareness of citizens. The Communities can also stimulate scientific research for biodiversity within their competences. The cultural dimension is being recognized today as an essential part of biodiversity.
1.2. Advisory and consultative bodies
Both at the Federal and Regional levels, use is made of advisory bodies.
The main advisory and consultative bodies at the Federal level are the Belgian Federal Council for Sustainable Development and the Belgian Biosafety Advisory Council. Both councils are asked for advice on specific matters.
As far as the Walloon Region is concerned, the Walloon Senior Nature Conservation Council (Conseil Supérieur Wallon de la Conservation de la Nature - CSWCN) presides over the State Nature Reserve Management Consultative Commissions (Commissions Consultatives de Gestion des Réserves Naturelles Domaniales – CCGRND)
Furthermore there are several other councils like:
- the Superior Walloon Council for Hunting
- the Superior Walloon Council for Fishery
- the Superior Walloon Council for Forests and Woods sector
- the Walloon Council of the Environment for Sustainable Development (CWEDD)
- the Economic and Social Council of the Walloon Region (CESRW)
In the Flemish Region there are two important advisory bodies, namely the Flemish Environmental and Nature Council (“MINA-raad”) and the Flemish Socio-Economic Council (SERV) and four sectoral advisory bodies: the Flemish High Council for Freshwater Fishing (VHRV), the Flemish High Council for Hunting (VHJ), the Flemish High Council for Nature Conservation (VHRN), and the Flemish High Council for Forestry (VHB).
In the Brussels-Capital Region a prominent role is played by the Environmental Council (Conseil de l'Environnement, Raad van Leefmilieu). For nature conservation matters, this Council consults the Brussels Higher Council for Nature Conservation (Conseil Supérieur Bruxellois pour la Conservation de la Nature, Brusselse Hoge Raad voor het Natuurbehoud).
Its mission is to give advice about questions of nature conservation.
Besides these official advisory bodies, the Brussels-Capital Region has a number of associations for the environment in general, which are organised in the federative associations Inter-Environnement Bruxelles (IEB) and the ‘Brusselse Raad voor het Leefmilieu’ (BRAL or Brussels Environmental Association). BRAL is considered by the Regional and Federal Governments to be the official representative advocate of the active residents and residents' groups, and this is why BRAL is established in various official consultation bodies like the Environmental Council and the Regional Development Committee.
1.3. Research institutes
Different research institutes exist that play an important role in gathering information about biodiversity, but also in protecting biodiversity and educating the public.
At the Federal level the following institutes may be mentioned:
- Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS),
- Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models and the Scheldt estuary (MUMM)
- Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA)
- Scientific Institute of Public Health
- National Botanic Garden of Belgium
At the Regional level the following institutes may be mentioned:
- The Institute for Nature and Forest Research (INBO) is involved in applied ecological research with a view to nature conservation, recovery and management, presenting science-based knowledge to policy-makers.
- the Walloon Agricultural Research Centre (CRAW, Gembloux)
- the 'Département de l'étude du Milieu Naturel et Agricole' (DEMNA, Wallonia)
- Brussels Research Unit for Environmental, Geochemical & Life Science Studies (BRUEGEL)
- Agricultural Research Centre - Ghent (CLO-Gent)
- VITO (Flemish RTO - research and technology organisation)
- Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ)
- Universities play a key role in biodiversity research
- Masters schools
1.4. Other actors
Other relevant actors include NGOs, local authorities, districts, private sector, etc.
 From 1/1/2006 these sectoral bodies are sub-commissions of the Mina-Raad.