First National Report of Belgium
to the Convention on Biological Diversity


 

8. Belgian Clearing-House Mechanism

8.1. Homepage of the Belgian Clearing-House

Following decision II/3 of COP-2 (Jakarta, 6-17 November 1995) and in accordance to recommendations made by SBSTTA-2 (Montreal, 2-6 September 1996), the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, National Focal Point to the Convention on Biological Diversity, has launched as of 7 October 1996 the website of the Belgian Clearing-House on the Internet. Belgium was the second country of the EU and the fifth of the world to do so.

The Belgian website was gradually enhanced and was the second to be added to the official list of National Focal Point Clearing-Houses by the Secretariat of the Convention (July 1997). The Belgian Clearing-House provides several options for searching through the available information on biological diversity in Belgium and world-wide (http://www.kbinirsnb.be/bch-cbd/homepage.htm).

Graphically the Belgian Clearing-House homepage consists of two basic parts:
- a Belgian window,
- a selection of hyperlinks giving direct access to other national, regional, sectoral and thematic clearing-houses as well as to the CBD Secretariat and Clearing-House and to UNEP, CSD and other relevant sites.

The Belgian window is subdivided into two parts (Fig. 8.1.):
- in the right column, an overview of the Belgian implementation process of the Convention is given with inter alia direct links to the competent servers of the Walloon Region, the Flemish Region and the Brussels Capital Region and to thematic sites e.g. North Sea, Belnet biodiversity, Belgian Biosafety Server;
- in the left column, a selection of facilities given by the Belgian National Focal Point as a service to all those involved with the Convention (e.g. direct links to all Belgian universities and relevant scientific institutions, ministries and ministerial administrations, collections, vast bibliographies, Belgian experts, ...).

A striking example of this service are the pages ‘Acronyms related to the CBD' and ‘Glossary of terms related to the CBD' to which webmasters of other Clearing-Houses have made a hyperlink, bearing in mind that it is better to take maximum profit of the work done elsewhere instead of doubling the efforts.

Another example: Belgium is one of three CHM-NFPs offering a partnering service for non-webconnected NFPs, which means that Belgium is ready to ‘parent' for a certain time some general information for a non-webconnected National Focal Point as a kind of bilateral collaboration. It aims to facilitate the National Implementation of the Clearing-House Mechanism by all Parties. The CBD Secretariat is playing the co-ordinating role.

Evidently the Belgian Clearing-House website is and will be under permanent development, particularly in responding to priority settings by COP decisions (e.g. matters related to biotechnology, taxonomic expertise, etc). Moreover the website will be developed in synergy with the relevant activities of the Belgian Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs (OSTC).

Fig. 8.1. - Belgian window on the homepage of the Belgian Clearing-House Mechanism.

8.2. The Belnet Biodiversity Server

Within the framework of the BELNET Workgroup on Biodiversity (http://www.belspo.be/biodiv/), the OSTC is funding an on line inventory of the resources concerning biodiversity available in Belgium (http://www.br.fgov.be/BIODIV/). This inventory is not limited to the biodiversity of the Belgian territory. It concerns specialists (both professional and private), research programmes at universities, research institutes and elsewhere, collections, botanical gardens, zoos, museums, existing databases and their contents, associations and administrations involved in the study and conservation of the diversity of living organisms in all its aspects, from the genome to the biome level, on a planetary scale.

8.3. The Belgian Biosafety Server

The Belgian Biosafety Server (http://biosafety.ihe.be/) is the website of the Biosafety Advisory Council. It is designed and administrated by the Service of Biosafety and Biotechnology acting as the Secretariat of the Council. It is hosted by the federal Scientific Institute of Public Health - Louis Pasteur (IPH, Brussels), which acts under the responsibility of the Ministry for Social Affairs, Public Health and Environment. This website is primarily focusing on all scientific and regulatory aspects of biological safety regarding human activities using pathogenic and genetically modified organisms. A chapter (http://biosafety.ihe.be/Menu/Biodiv.html) is dedicated to biosafety aspects of biodiversity, focusing mainly on the UNEP International Technical Guidelines for Safety in Biotechnology (full text available on-line) and on the current negotiation process aiming at developing a protocol on biosafety, specifically focusing on the transboundary movement of Living Modified Organisms.

J. Van Goethem
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
CBD National Focal Point
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels

 

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Last updated  29-11-2004


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