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Partijbureau 11-09-2006

Toespraak Duurzame ontwikkeling PDF Afdrukken
woensdag, 29 november 2006

Naar aanleiding van het internationaal congres 'Institutionalisation of political prospectiveness'  in Berlijn geeft Christel Geerts een toespraak  over duurzame ontwikkeling (sustainable development). Concreet over hoe dit begrip wordt ingevuld in België. Hieronder vindt u de tekst.

Institutionalisation of Political Prospectiveness: The Example of Belgium

Senator, Chairwoman of the Ageing commission (Senate)

1. Introduction

  • a growing awareness in many countries about the need for a sustainable policy…

  • but at the same time, we are not always prepared to assume fully the practical consequences thereof.

2. Purpose


  • how the concept of ‘sustainability’ is being institutionalised in Belgium under intergenerational solidarity, and which policy incentives ensue.

3.Background history


          1972 in a report entitled “Limits to Growth,” published at the behest of the Club of Rome.  

          A very small group of intellectuals asked questions and made future-oriented remarks, which were far removed from the policymakers of the time.  And yet, an awareness gradually emerged from this discourse that endless growth was untenable and the concept of sustainable development came into being.

* the Belgian sustainable development policy has always fit in the EU and international framework.

          * The adoption of the EU strategy for sustainable development in 2001 in Gothenburg

          * The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992),

          *The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (2002),

          ( millennium goals)

          * The closing documents of the annual meetings of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.                         

          *The Kyoto summit in 1997 where the Rio commitment was given more concrete form.

4. Theoretical bases


          In Belgium, the 27 principles of the Rio Declaration are accepted for the further definition of sustainable development.  Five of these principles, are always placed at the centre of concerns.

          1. Principle of common but differentiated responsibilities

          2. Principle of double fairness 

          3. Integration principle 

          4. Precaution principle 

          5. Participation principle 

          This United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (for the UN Climate Treaty) held in Rio in 1992, tried to find a solution to two extremely complex crisis, namely the environmental question and the call for social justice worldwide.

          These two lines of approach, ecological and social justice, have been always prominent in Belgium in fulfilling -- and raising awareness about – the concept of ‘sustainable development.’

          With a view to the ageing of the population, the federal government launched a generation pact in 2005 (accompanied by flanking measures such as a silver fund and a silver care fund).

5. Embedding in the policy


          The Belgian Constitution contains certain elements that refer indirectly to the dimensions of sustainable development.

          For instance, Article 23 of the Constitution

          Furthermore, Title I(a) reiterates a collective obligation of the Belgian population to future generations. 

          A few months ago, the Belgian senate approved an addition to the Constitution with Article 7(a). 

          “Article 7(a). — In exercising their respective powers, the federal State, municipalities and regions shall pursue the objectives of the social, economic, and environmental aspects of sustainable development, taking due account of inter-generational solidarity.”

the Federal Sustainable Development Policy Act of 5 May 1997 : had already established a decision-making cycle on sustainable development.

          This federal strategy contains in particular the elaboration of:

          A federal four-year plan with sustainable development policy answers and measures;

          A federal two-year report with, in particular, an evaluation of the sustainable development policy. 

          An Inter-departmental Commission on Sustainable Development, as well as a Federal Public Service and a Federal Council on Sustainable Development. 

44 “sustainable development indicators

          of 44 “sustainable development indicators,” such as:

          *Outlays for development aid;

          *Government debt;

          *Poverty figures;

          *Life expectancy (83.2 for women and 77 for men)

          *Use of pesticides;

          *Greenhouse gas emissions;


          This system makes it possible to monitor social, ecological and economic trends objectively.

6. In conclusion 

          As already mentioned, we have a good institutional framework for a permanent, thorough sustainability policy. 

          On the other hand, we have also indicated that this is not a dominant topic on the policy front.  The issues related thereto have scarcely elicited any interest from the public.

In closing

I wish to point out that these discussions have all to often been characterised by a playground quarrel between economic and ecological arguments.  In the meantime, there are sufficient data, in particular World Bank reports, which show convincingly that the economy on the one hand, and ecology and sustainability on the other, need not be opposing values.  The future seems in large measure reconcilable on this front too… but we are really on the brink…


Christel in de pers

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