Sustainable development

Governments at both the federal and regional level have been dealing with sustainable development issues for several years. Clearly, mutually supportive initiatives in the economic, social policy and environmental protection fields are crucial in promoting sustainable development.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in September 2002 complemented the 2000 Millennium Development Goals with a number of additional time-bound objectives (e.g. minimising the adverse effects of chemicals by 2020). Within the EU, and more specifically in the framework of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, Belgium will continue to work towards the practical implementation of the decisions taken at the World Summit. Moreover, Brazil has proposed organising another summit in 2012.

A key element in the concrete realisation of the resolutions made in Johannesburg is the work programme of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). The 2008-2009 CSD cycle dealt with agriculture, rural development, drought and desertification and Africa, as well as with transversal topics such as financing and gender.  In the next CSD cycle, which will cover the period from 2011-2012, the topics at hand will be transport, chemicals, mining, waste, and sustainable production and consumption patterns.

At the OECD, there has been a sustainable development programme underway since 2001 and Belgium is in favour of permanently including this policy area in the organisation’s activities. The chair of the organisation’s Annual Meeting of Sustainable Development Experts for the 2009-2011 period is held by a Belgian, B. Mazijn.

The 2nd Federal Plan for Sustainable Development 2004-2008 makes it possible for the Belgian federal government to implement a number of the commitments made in Johannesburg at the level of the various Federal Public Services, including Foreign Affairs. Examples include external initiatives in the areas of public health and living environments, biodiversity and forests, energy and climate change, sustainable trade policies and corporate social responsibility. This plan has now been extended to the end of 2009. A draft of a third plan for sustainable development for the 2010-2014 period has been produced in the meantime, but it still has to be brought into line with a number of new policy options available to the federal government.

Like other Federal Public Services, along with the Sustainable Development Department FPS Foreign Affairs has a more recent Sustainable Development Unit. The purpose of this unit is to monitor the implementation of the provisions of this plan within our FPS.

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