8. Belgian Clearing-House Mechanism
8.1. Homepage of the Belgian
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
- 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
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
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