Biological diversity or biodiversity underpins the functioning of ecosystems and the provision of ecosystem services essential to human well-being. It provides for food security, human health, clean air and water. It contributes to local livelihoods and economic development, and is essential in terms of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, including poverty reduction.
Concern for global problems related to natural resources and the environment, like climate change and biodiversity decline, have resulted since the 1970s in numerous international agreements aimed at preserving natural resources, their renewing capacity and the quality of the environment. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, Rio, 1992) encompasses many of the international agreements on the environment. It has three objectives at a global level: the conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity), the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.
Article 6 of the Convention states that each Contracting Party should develop national strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and integrate as far as possible the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into relevant sectoral and cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies. The present Strategy sets out Belgium’s implementation of this article.
A crucial step towards the conservation of biodiversity was taken by Belgium at the European Summit of Gothenburg in 2001 where, together with the other EU countries, Belgium committed itself to “halting biodiversity decline by 2010” in the EU . At the global level, the 2010 target was endorsed during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, where world leaders committed themselves to “achieving by 2010 a significant reduction in the rate of loss of biological diversity”.
The 2010 biodiversity target has inspired actions at many levels worldwide and in Belgium. However, such actions have not been on a scale sufficient to address the pressures on biodiversity. Moreover there has been insufficient integration of biodiversity issues into broader policies, strategies, programmes and actions, and therefore the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss have not been significantly reduced. While there is now some understanding of the linkages between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being, the value of biodiversity is still not reflected in broader policies and incentive structures (CBD Decision X/2).
In October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan, world governments recognized the failure to attain the target to significantly reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 and they reached a historic global agreement to take urgent action to build a future of living in harmony with nature.
The CBD Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 (SP), with a vision, a mission, five strategic goals and 20 ambitious yet achievable targets (“the Aichi Biodiversity Targets”), was adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to halt and eventually reverse the loss of biodiversity on the planet by 2020 (see Appendix 4).
The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and its Aichi Targets should inspire broad-based action by all Parties and stakeholders. It provides a flexible framework for the establishment of national and regional targets and for enhancing coherence in the implementation of the biodiversity-related conventions. All Parties committed to revising their national instruments to integrate the SP & Aichi Targets by 2014. A separate Strategic Plan for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was adopted in 2010.
In December 2010, the UN General Assembly declared the period 2011-2020 to be “the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity” to build support and momentum for this urgent task of achieving the SP and Aichi Targets (UNGA resolution 65/161). The purpose is to inspire action in support of biodiversity over this decade (2011-2020) throughout the UN system and by all countries and stakeholders promoting the coherent and effective implementation of the CBD.
In May 2011, the European Commission adopted an ambitious new strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020. It contains six main targets and 20 actions to help Europe reach its goal (see appendix 4).
Updating Belgium's first National Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) is an opportunity to translate the ambitious global agreements reached at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the CBD in Nagoya during the Belgian Presidency of the European Union at the end of 2010 and the outcome of the eleventh Conference of the Parties in 2012 into national policy. The update also considers the contribution of Belgium to the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, the EU Council Conclusions on biodiversity and the other commitments made until 2013 under the biodiversity-related agreements. This framework document should serve as a reference for the development and updating of strategies and actions implemented by the Federal, Regional and Community Governments, as well as at provincial and municipal level.
Biodiversity 2020 – the update of Belgium's National Biodiversity Strategy 2006-2016 (SNB) spells out a range of 15 strategic objectives and 85 operational objectives that aim to halt biodiversity loss and to contribute nationally and internationally to the achievement of the 2020 target. No specific actions or targets are adopted in the Strategy itself but they will be adopted and developed at a later stage in the implementation process.
 Presidency Conclusions, Gothenburg Council, 15 and 16 June 2001. SN/200/1/01 REV1, page 8.
 WSSD Plan of Implementation, Article 44.