First National Report of Belgium
to the Convention on Biological Diversity


 

6. Development co-operation

6.1. Introduction

This chapter presents an overview of the Belgian development aid through contributions to financial mechanisms and transfer of technology, including international training programmes, in order to support developing countries in their quest for economic, social and institutional growth, bearing in mind the sustainable development for future generations.

The Belgian Federal Government is strongly committed to the principles and guidelines contained in the Declaration of Rio (UNCED 1992) and has started to implement them in its development assistance programmes ever since.

Belgium also adheres to the co-ordinated approach of donor countries, through an active participation in international fora, such as the European Union and the OECD. Considering the global character of the loss of biodiversity, only a well co-ordinated, international strategy may stand a chance of success.

6.2. Contributions to financial mechanisms

6.2.1. Belgian Official Development Assistance

As a whole, the Belgian Official Development Assistance (ODA) disbursements for 1995 amounted to 1.03 billion US$ , representing 0.38% of the gross national product (GNP). This percentage led Belgium to occupy the 8th place among the OECD/DAC-countries. An average of 40% of total ODA goes to multilateral contributions.

6.2.2. Belgian Agency for Development Co-operation

Among the multilateral financial mechanisms, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) receives 1.68% of its total Core Fund budget from the Belgian Federal Government through the Belgian Agency for Development Co-operation (BADC), summing up 1.1 billion BEF, paid in cash, for the period from 1 July 1994 to 30 June 1997, distributed as follows:

1994-1995: 320,000,000 BEF
1996: 390,000,000 BEF
1997: 390,000,000 BEF

During the GEF Pilot phase, Belgium contributed 198,532,682 BEF (4,420,900 SDR) to the Core Fund and additionally co-financed a solar water heating project in Tunisia and a West African community-based natural resources and wildlife management project in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast up to 247,270,324 BEF, overhead costs included (5,000,000 SDR).

Belgium is member of a group of bilateral donors which contribute to the ‘Regional Environmental Information Management Project' in the Central African Region, with an amount of 30,000,000 BEF. The project aims at improving the planning and the management of the natural resources in the Congo Basin, with a particular focus on the preservation of biological diversity.

Since the prevention of further loss of biodiversity and the restoration of already lost resources is part of the solution, efforts made in the field of forestation, reforestation and the combat against desertification should also be reported.

Over the last 10 years the Belgian Federal Government has supported the Special Programme for Africa (phase I and II) with roughly 1.8 billion BEF, through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Field projects comprise rural development, water management, forestation, soil degradation, in those areas of Sub-Saharan Africa that are especially vulnerable to drought, desertification and climate change.

Within the countries belonging to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a similar initiative is under way through bilateral co-operation projects, totaling close to 300 million BEF for the period 1993-1997.

As of 1996 a voluntary contribution, amounting to 2,000,000 BEF per year, is also made to the interim Secretariat of the Convention to Combat Desertification.

6.2.3. Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs

6.2.3.1. Joint research projects

Joint research projects are also initiated by the Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs (OSTC) within the frame of bilateral agreements with i.e. China, Poland and Russia consisting in a transfer of Belgian know-how which has been developed through the national R&D programmes implemented by the OSTC. Yearly the financing of bilateral projects related to biodiversity and environmental protection amounts to ca. 10,000,000 BEF. Examples of such co-operations are the joint study of the endemic fauna (invertebrates) of Lake Baikal (since the beginning of the 90s the OSTC also supplied a contribution of 200,000 USD to the Baikal International Centre for Ecological Research (BICER)); the establishment of a forest database, using remote sensing techniques, for the monitoring of stands in the Kozienice Landscape Park and Zawierce Forest in Poland; the study and conservation of specific groups of actinomycetes and microfungi from the Yunnan province and Changhai region in China.

Technology transfer to Central and Eastern European countries is also provided for by the OSTC through the granting of research fellowships to post-doc scientists from these countries allowing them to stay in Belgian laboratories during 6 to 12 months. The Belgian host units are those which are involved in the execution of the R&D programmes of the OSTC. Since 1991, 35 (out of 286) fellowships were situated in the field of biological resources (on average 5 yearly).

6.2.3.2. TELSAT research programme

Via the TELSAT research programme, techniques are developed for monitoring at local, regional and global scale of several issues (in)directly related to biodiversity: land cover and land use changes (patterns and evolution in time), land degradation in (semi-) arid regions, landscape morphology, habitats of endangered species or indicator species for biodiversity.

Earth observation data at different geographic scales, related to other data sources via ‘geo-information' systems contribute to understanding and monitoring driving forces for changes in the ecosystems. Development of spatial models allows to conduct simulations of likely impacts of human actions leading to a transformation of the landscape on key landscape attributes such as biodiversity.

Some demonstration studies regarding landscape and habitat monitoring were conducted in Belgium and at a Western European scale. Several research projects, conducted with local services for natural resources management in Western and Central Africa, and/or with international organisations such as the Worldbank/Environment, FAO/Forest, IUCN and WWF International, permit a notable transfer of technology with regard to improved techniques for monitoring and planning purposes concerning the sustainable management of natural resources.

The issues ‘contribution to environmental accounting' as well as environmental impact assessment of development projects are also part of the research agenda of the TELSAT programme.

6.3. Future resource allocations

The exact amount and type of future contributions are rather difficult to predict, but it is fair to state that the Belgian Federal Government will continue to live up to its commitments under Agenda 21 in general and the ones already established. In this respect Belgium is considering to increase its contribution to the second replenishment of GEF, to be finalised shortly, by some 10% with regard to GEF-1, i.e. over 1.2 billion BEF.

6.4. Technology transfer and capacity building

At the federal level, the BADC has always included the aspects of technology transfer and capacity building in its bilateral agreements. Transfer of environmentally sound technology should allow rapid growth of developing countries while safeguarding the general environment and natural resources. Capacity building serves the same purpose, as it prepares the individual countries for dealing with the wide array of international agreements, national plans, technology evolution, etc.

BADC also supports International Course Programmes and International Training Programmes at Belgian universities, featuring topics such as biotechnology applied to agriculture, biostatistics, fundamental and applied marine ecology, tropical molecular biology, etc.

 

J. Buys
Belgian Agency for Development Co-operation
Brederodestraat 6
1000 Brussels

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