Belgium
Voluntary National Review 2017
Main messages pertaining to the Belgian National Voluntary Review

Belgium can build on a long tradition of efforts towards sustainable development. Since 2007, sustainable development is anchored in the Belgian Constitution as a general policy objective. For several years, the various governments at federal and federated levels have been using overarching plans and strategies to ensure coherence between the different dimensions of sustainable development, while a tailored institutional framework enables cooperation, consultation and coordination between the actors involved. While these elements provide Belgian authorities with a good starting point, further adaptations and accelerations in terms of policy-making, institutional functioning and staffing are necessary in view of incorporating the SDGs and targets into all of our internal and external policy frameworks in the best and most coherent possible manner.

This process is ongoing, and the National Voluntary Review (NVR) has so far played a pedagogical and instrumental role, thereby also maximizing the peer learning potential within the Belgian federal system. Coordinated by a political steering committee chaired by the Prime Minister, and with the active involvement of representatives from the various federal and federated entities, it has ensured a much needed high-level political impetus. It has intensified reflections on the best way to operationalize the SDGs within government departments; allowed progress in the work on a Belgian SDG indicator framework; emphasized the need to ensure all relevant actors are truly on board in a ‘whole of government’ comprehensive approach coherently combining development, defense, diplomacy and rule of law instruments abroad; and it has given a renewed impulse in terms of collaboration with civil society stakeholders and private sector. Most importantly, it has allowed for the first time to deliver a comprehensive overview of the panoply of actions which, domestically as well as externally directed, are currently ongoing and contributing to SDG attainment.

NVR findings underscore the commitment of the Belgian authorities to implementing the SDGs as a whole, taking on board key principles such as leaving no-one behind, adopting a rights-based approach and mainstreaming gender throughout the SDGs. The focus is on all SDGs, working through overarching strategies and initiatives to address interlinkages and to enhance cooperation within and between the various governments. Governments are aligning sectoral and thematic policy plans at national, subnational and local levels to the 2030 Agenda. This alignment has, for example, already contributed to a far-reaching overhaul in Belgian international development policies. The NVR also highlights the commitment of civil society organizations and private sector players, who are launching a broad range of actions and are often setting up new umbrella organizations or revitalizing and adapting existing ones.

All 17 SDGs as well as a large majority of their corresponding 169 targets are currently being addressed in one way or another, with many actions being reported on the SDGs related to, inter alia, health, gender, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work, terrestrial biodiversity and peaceful societies. The review also identified that further efforts will be required in a number of areas in order to address specific challenges, as scale matters in terms of the extent to which various governments have been able to systematically incorporate the SDGs throughout their areas of competence. Civil society counterparts, consulted in the context of this NVR, indicated that they expect additional attention for issues pertaining to lifelong learning, water and air quality (including particulate matter), energy intensity and renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions, people at risk of poverty as well as mobilization of the necessary means of implementation.

Reviewing the implementation of the SDGs in and by Belgium remains work in progress. Given the challenges related to undertaking a fully-fledged review of progress and impact covering the full breadth and depth of this agenda, this first edition of the Belgian NVR should be considered primarily as a stocktaking exercise, a starting point providing us with a (partial) baseline and a benchmark: for guiding further action, for future monitoring of progress, and for strengthening accountability towards the Belgian population and parliaments.
Messages principaux

La Belgique bénéficie d’une longue tradition d’efforts déployés pour promouvoir un développement durable. En témoignent l’inscription en 2007 du développement durable dans la Constitution belge en tant qu’objectif politique général, ainsi que l’adoption et la mise en œuvre depuis plusieurs années, par les gouvernements aux niveaux fédéral et fédéré de stratégies et de plans globaux pour fournir plus de cohérence entre les différentes dimensions du développement durable. De plus, un cadre institutionnel adapté a été mis en place pour permettre la coopération, la consultation et la coordination entre les acteurs impliqués. Bien que ces éléments fournissent aux autorités belges un bon point de départ, l’élaboration des politiques, le fonctionnement institutionnel et la gestion du personnel vont nécessiter de nouvelles adaptations et/ou vont devoir être accélérées pour intégrer les ODD et leurs cibles dans l’ensemble des politiques intérieures et extérieures, et cela de la manière la plus cohérente possible.

Ce processus est en cours, et ce premier Examen National Volontaire (ENV) a joué un rôle déterminant et pédagogique, maximisant ainsi le potentiel d’apprentissage par les pairs au sein du système fédéral belge. Coordonné par un comité de pilotage politique présidé par le Premier Ministre, et avec la participation active de représentants des entités fédérales et fédérées, il a donné un élan politique nécessaire au plus haut niveau. Ce processus a intensifié les réflexions sur la manière la plus efficace de concrétiser les ODD au sein des services publics; a favorisé les avancées dans les travaux relatifs aux indicateurs permettant de suivre les ODD; a mis l’accent sur le besoin de veiller à ce que tous les acteurs concernés soient réellement impliqués dans une approche intégrée associant de façon cohérente des instruments de politique étrangère en matière de développement, de défense, de diplomatie et d’État de droit ; et a donné une nouvelle impulsion en termes de collaboration avec les parties prenantes de la société civile et du secteur privé. Mais surtout, il a permis pour la première fois d’obtenir une vue d’ensemble de la panoplie d’actions qui sont en cours, tant en Belgique qu’à l’étranger, pour contribuer à la réalisation des ODD.

Les résultats de l’Examen National Volontaire soulignent l’engagement des autorités belges à mettre en œuvre les ODD dans leur ensemble, en tenant compte de principes clés tels que « ne laisser personne de côté », de l’adoption d’une approche basée sur les droits et de l’intégration des questions de genre dans les ODD. L’accent est mis dans cet Examen sur tous les ODD, par le biais de stratégies et d’initiatives transversales permettant de traiter des interconnexions entre les ODD et de renforcer la coopération au sein de chaque gouvernement et entre eux. En Belgique, les gouvernements ont commencé à aligner leurs projets politiques thématiques et sectoriels aux niveaux national, infranational et local sur l’Agenda 2030. Cet alignement a, par exemple, déjà contribué à une refonte de grande envergure des politiques belges de développement international. L’Examen National Volontaire a également mis en lumière l’engagement des organisations de la société civile et des acteurs du secteur privé, qui lancent de très nombreuses actions et qui mettent souvent en place de nouvelles organisations faîtières ou raniment et adaptent celles qui existent déjà.

Les 17 ODD, ainsi que la vaste majorité de leurs 169 cibles, sont traités, d’une manière ou d’une autre, avec de nombreuses actions portant notamment sur les ODD relatifs à la santé, l’égalité des genres, la croissance économique durable et inclusive et le travail décent, ainsi qu’à la biodiversité terrestre et aux sociétés pacifiques. Cet examen a aussi mis en évidence que des efforts supplémentaires sont requis dans plusieurs domaines pour répondre à certains enjeux précis, et que l’étendue des moyens que mettent en œuvre les gouvernements détermine leurs capacités respectives à intégrer de façon systématique les ODD dans leurs domaines de compétence. Les acteurs de la société civile consultés dans le cadre de cet Examen National Volontaire, ont indiqué qu’ils considéraient que plus d’attention devait être apporté aux questions relatives à l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie, à l’eau et la qualité de l’air (en ce compris les particules fines), à l’intensité énergétique et aux énergies renouvelables, aux émissions de gaz à effet de serre, aux personnes présentant un risque de pauvreté ainsi qu’à la mobilisation des moyens nécessaires à la mise en œuvre des ODD.

L’examen de la mise en œuvre des ODD en Belgique, et par la Belgique, est bien en cours. Toutefois, compte tenu des défis relatifs à la réalisation d’un examen complet des progrès et des impacts recouvrant toute l’étendue de cet Agenda 2030, cette première édition de l’Examen National Volontaire belge doit avant tout être considérée comme un bilan, un point de départ nous fournissant une base de référence partielle et un repère pour orienter de nouvelles actions, suivre les progrès vers les ODD ; et améliorer notre capacité à rendre des comptes sur la mise en œuvre de ce Programme à la population belge et aux parlements.

Focal point
Mr. Pieter Leenknegt
Coordinator UN Development Agenda
Belgian Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid
Belgian focal point NVR
Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

Partnerships & Commitments
The below is a listing of all partnership initiatives and voluntary commitments where Belgium is listed as a partner or lead entity in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform
Achieving new Fisheries measures in the Belgian part of the North Sea

Starting from June 2017, Belgium will implement measures that will improve and protect sea bottom integrity, by not allowing certain bottom fisheries techniques. Two zones have been selected to test alternative bottom trawl fishing techniques that will cause less seabed disturbance compared to current techniques. The projects tested in those zones should comply with SDG 14 and have to be authorized by the Federal Public Service for the Environment.

Partners
Federal Public Service for the Environment, Marine-Fisheries Flanders, scientific sector
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Africalia

Africalia was created to set in motion the realization of the objectives laid out in Article 27 of the EU-ACP Cotonou Agreement. The objectives of this article are: * the inclusion of a cultural dimension in all aspects of development cooperation, * the facilitating of intercultural dialogue among ACP countries, * the preservation and valorization of these countries' cultural heritage, * the development of their cultural industries, and * the improvement of access for their cultural goods and services to European markets. Article 27 thus contends that culture can be an important lever ...[more]

Partners
Governments: Government of Belgium - Belgian State Secretariat for Dev. Cooperation Major Groups: Africalia (Belgium) Other intergovernmental organizations: The European Union (Belgium)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Belgian long term vision for the North Sea 2050

The long term vision for the North Sea 2050 is a bottom-up initiative of the Secretary of State for the North Sea, Mr. Philippe De Backer for which all sectors and stakeholders in Belgium are invited to participate in different working groups. There will be 3 different working groups: - Naturalness; - Multiple spatial use - Blue economy and innovation. These working groups will set out concrete future scenarios that have to benefit the North Sea. Each working group will provide input for a report which will be publized at the end of the year 2017. The final report will also provide a ...[more]

Partners
Belgian federal DG Environment (government), Secretary of State for the North Sea and his Cabinet (government), multiple scientific communities, multiple academic institutions, multiple NGOs, private sector (multiple actors).
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Belgian marine research programme

The Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) has initiated and supported research programmes dedicated to the study of the marine ecosystem. The objectives of the programmes are to enhance the understanding of the marine ecosystem and to support a sustainable management and use of this ecosystem. The focus lies mainly on the North Sea ecosystem and surrounding areas as well as on the Southern Ocean. In the frame of the latest research programme BRAIN-be (Belgian Research Action through Interdisciplinary Networks), 24 multidisciplinary research projects focussed on the marine environment or wi...[more]

Partners
Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) and several Belgian Academic and Research Institutions
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Belgium's national action plan on Ballast Water by Federal Public Service of Mobility and Transport - Belgium (Government) - SDG 14

Belgium commits to the preparation of a national action plan to reduce the damage caused by ballast water from ships. The process of loading and unloading untreated ballast water poses a major threat to the environment, public health and the economy as ships become a vector for the transfer of organisms between ecosystems, from one part of the world to another. The Ballast Water Convention, managed by the International Maritime Organization in London, aims at preventing, limiting and eventually eliminating the displacement of harmful aquatic organisms and germs by controlling and managing t...[more]

Partners
Federal Public Service of Mobility and Transport - Belgium (Government)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Belgium's national action plan on marine litter

Belgium commits to the preparation of a national action plan to combat marine litter. The scope of the national action plan will be broad, aiming to prevent macro, as well as micro litter, and to reduce land-based, as well as sea-based sources. Examples of types of litter and sources that will be addressed in the action plan are litter from the fisheries sector, single use plastic materials and primary microplastics. The action plan will also contain several cleaning activities such as the removal of fishing nets from ship wrecks and beach cleanups. Finally, there will be an important focus on...[more]

Partners
Federal Public Service for the Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment, Directorate General for the Environment, Department for the Marine Environment; Department for Product Policy; Department forMultilateral and Strategic Affairs. Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Directorate General for the United Nations
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Brochure on marine biodiversity in the Belgian part of the North Sea

Knowing is caring! Belgium will be producing a brochure on marine biodiversity in the Belgian part of the North Sea. The purpose is to raise awareness among the general public on the rich and diverse life in our North Sea and how to protect it. The brochure will touch on different subject, such as: - the different hotspots of biodiversity in the North Sea; - a selection of 10 to 15 marine species (shrimp, porpoise, ) in the different dimensions (sea bed, water, air): o whats special about this species? o which threats does it suffer from (pollution, microplastics, climate change, )? ...[more]

Partners
Federal public service for the Environment, department for the marine environment and department for communications
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Environmentally sound ship recycling: Implementation of the Hong Kong Convention and encouraging others to join

Belgium was amongst the first countries to join the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships and has transposed it, as well as the EU regulations on the matter, into its national law. Within its national law, Belgium has adopted severe sanctions for ships that violate these environmentally sound recycling standards. Belgium commits to enthousiastically encourage others to join this important convention and is evaluating options to do this is the best possible way (for example through a workshop or seminar within the IMO). It is our goal t...[more]

Partners
Belgian DG Shipping, OVAM
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Federal Truck awareness raising campaign on marine biodiversity

The Federal Truck is a beautifully designed truck with which the Belgian federal government is reaching out to citizens in a low-threshold, accessible and fun manner. Coastal populations and visitors's awareness is raised on the natural values of the North Sea, the importance of its protection and actions that are and can be taken in this field. The Federal Truck will visit 10 coastal cities over the course of the summer of 2017 and will propose the following activities for visitors: - playing our interactive game on a big screen getting waste out of the ocean; - discovering marine life i...[more]

Partners
Federal Public Service for the Environment
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Guidance for sustainable coastal events at the beach

We want to guide organizers of beach events to come to a more sustainable event. We give them tips for sustainable catering, use of material, energy and water use, waste management,...

Partners
Province of West Flanders, Ovam
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
IHO Hydrography Capacity Building Programme for Coastal States

The IHO capacity building programme seeks to assess and advise on how countries can best meet their international obligations and serve their own best interests by providing appropriate hydrographic and nautical charting services. Such services directly support safety of navigation, safety of life at sea, efficient sea transportation and the wider use of the seas and oceans in a sustainable way, including the protection of the marine environment, coastal zone management, fishing, marine resource exploration and exploitation, maritime boundary delimitation, maritime defence and security, and o...[more]

Partners
International Hydrographic Organization (IGO); 87 IHO Member States (Governments); International Maritime Organization (UN); World Meteorological Organization (UN); International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (NGO)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
New multidisciplinary research vessel

Recently (31/3/2017) the Belgian Federal Government has decided to acquire a new multidisciplinary research vessel to replace the current RV Belgica. This new research vessel will be a state of the art ship. The specifications of the research vessel are based on the needs of the Belgian marine research community. It will be acoustic silent, equipped with ultra-modern hydro-acoustic devices (such as deep-water multibeam, parametric sub-bottom profiler, fishing sonar, USBL, ADCP, ...), two drop keels and a dynamic positioning system class 2. It will allow using all modern marine research infra...[more]

Partners
Belgian Science Policy Office (Government), Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (Government & Academic institution), Ministry of Defense (Government)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Preparation of sectoral agreement on elimination of microplastic in cosmetic and other consumption products

The Federal Minister of Environment, Mrs. Marie Christine Marghem, and the DETIC (Belgian and Luxembourg association for producers and distributors of cosmetics, cleaning and maintenance products, adhesives and sealants) commit to the preparation of a sectoral agreement that aims at eliminating microplastics from consumer products covered by the association, in particular cosmetic products. The agreement includes four commitments : scientific knowledge monitoring, adjustment process, communication and training, and the development of specific sectoral actions. The sectoral agreement firstly...[more]

Partners
Federal Minister of Environment of Belgium (government) DETIC, Belgian and Luxembourg association for producers and distributors of cosmetics, cleaning and maintenance products, adhesives and sealants (private sector)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
PROYECTO SPINCAM III

Colombia se compromete en la implementacin de una aproximacin integrada para la sostenibilidad de los ecosistemas marinos y costeros desde una perspectiva de crecimiento azul para la regin del Pacfico Sudeste, en el marco del proyecto SPINCAM fase 3

Partners
Gobiernos de Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Per y Blgica
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Revision of Belgium's Marine Spatial Plan

The Belgian part of the North Sea is one of the most intensively used seas in the world. Shipping, tourism, fisheries, sand exploitation, windmills etc. All these activities make use of what the sea has to offer. However, this myriad of activities causes high pressure. However, it can be a challenge for these diverging activities to co-exist. They may also have an impact on the environment. In order to achieve a balance, the Belgian authorities have adopted the first marine spatial plan for the Belgian part of the North Sea in 2014. We have committed to making this process cyclical, in orde...[more]

Partners
Federal and regional governments in Belgium, in consultation with civil society, academia and the private sector
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Study on the reintroduction of Oyster beds

During the 19th century, the European oyster was very common in the Belgian Marine Waters, but since the end of the 20th century, the species is virtually extinct. Its extinction can be explained by several causes, being the removal of hard substrates due to the use of bottom trawling techniques, overharvest of the biogenic reefs, introduced diseases,... ; Following on the reintroduction of undisturbed hard surfaces (artificial and/or restoration of habitat in the near future), the Belgian government voluntary runs a feasibility study in order to stimulate the presence of adult oysters and/o...[more]

Partners
FPS Health, Food Chain safety and Environment - DG Environment Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences - Directorate Natural Environment
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
SUNx - Strong Universal Network

SUNx is a legacy program for Maurice Strong, Sustainable Development pioneer. Our focus is Climate Change. It is eXistential. If we don’t address it now, it threatens humanity. We have created a systemic approach to Climate Resilience for Travel & Tourism though our Impact-Travel framework. SUNx helps communities align with Paris climate targets and related SDGs. It is partnership focused, guided by a Council of like-minded thinkers and driven from an EU based, not for profit Institute.

Partners
Regionaal Landschap Kempen en Maasland (RLKM), Seychelles Ministry for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Earth Focus Foundation, Lighthouse Reef Conservation Institute
Sustainable Development Goals
Vinyl 2010

The Voluntary Commitment of the European PVC industry is a 10-year plan for sustainable development and product stewardship across the life cycle of PVC. It was set up in 2000 to minimise the environmental impact of the PVC production, promote responsible use of additives, support collection and recycling, and encourage social dialogue between all of the industry stakeholders. Vinyl 2010 is the legal entity set up to provide the organisational and financial infrastructure to manage and monitor the actions undertaken as part of the Voluntary Commitment. It groups European vinyl resin manufactur...[more]

Partners
Governments: Government of European Community - EU Commission (DG Environment and DG Enterprise) Government of European Community - EU Parliament Major Groups: Vinyl 2010 (Belgium) Other: EMCEF Europe (Belgium) Organizacion de Consumidores y Usuarios (Spain)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Year of the North Sea

Secretary of State Philip De Backer, the Federal Public Service for the Environment, the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, WWF and Natuurpunt will join forces and turn 2018 into the "Year of the North Sea". Every month will get a specific theme (ex: marine litter) and we will make a dedicated short film about every theme. The activities and actions of each month will be dedicated to that theme. The goal is to raise awareness in Belgium and to increase ocean literacy. Our aim is that at the end of the year, virtually everyone will be able to answer the basic question: "What do w...[more]

Partners
Royal belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, WWF, Natuurpunt
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
United Nations