The first article of the Belgian Constitution states: "Belgium is a
Federal State which consists of communities and regions."
During 140 years, Belgium remained a unitarian state with a
decentralisation of responsibilities to the provinces and municipalities.
Via four successive phases of institutional reform in 1970, 1980, 1988-89
and 1993, the country evolved progressively into a federal state. A fifth
reform is currently under process. The redistribution of the decision-making
power followed two lines:
(1) The first concerned linguistics, and more broadly, everything related
to culture. It gave rise to three
communities, based on language and related to population groups: the
Flemish-, French- and German-speaking Communities.
(2) The second main line of the state reform was inspired historically by
economic concerns and led to the founding of three
regions corresponding to geographical entities: the Flemish Region
(or Flanders), the Brussels Capital Region and the Walloon Region (or
The Flemish Community and Flemish Region have merged into one competent
body. This was not possible for the Walloon region, which hosts the French
Community and the German-speaking Community. The French and Flemish
Communities also attend to the interests of the French- and Flemish-speaking
population in Brussels.
The country is
furthermore divided into 10 provinces and 589 municipalities. The
current decision-making structure of the country is therefore made of
- the upper level comprises the federal state, the communities and
- the middle level is occupied by the Provinces, and
- the lower level is that of the municipalities.
The provinces and municipalities act within the framework of
competences at the federal, community or regional level.
competencies for biodiversity issues
federal state, the communities and the regions have different levels
of competence regarding biodiversity-related issues and the Convention on Biological
As the regions have authority in territorial matters such as
town planning, the environment, agriculture, rural development and
nature conservation, implementation of biodiversity agreements within
Belgium is therefore nearly entirely of regional competence.
are in charge of education and public-awareness, while the federal level
deals principally with the external dimension of the Convention on
Biological Diversity, the coordination of Belgian positions at the
international level and territorial matters related to areas of Federal
competence (e.g. Belgian territorial waters in the North Sea, military
domains, railway embankments).
National Report to the Convention gives a synopsis of the political
framework relevant to biological diversity.
Contact information is given on the following pages: ministers
and their administrations.
Elaboration of international
Due to the complex organisational structure, decisions regarding
international aspects of the environment policy are taken as a consensus
between the different decision-making levels.
The consultation process takes place through the Co-ordinating
Committee for International Environmental Policy (CCIEP), which is
composed of representatives of all the competent federal and regional
administrations. This body functions under the high level authority of
the Inter-ministerial Conference for the Environment (ICE), chaired by
the Federal Minister for Environment. The main tasks of the CCIEP are to
prepare the positions of the Belgian delegations in international
conferences and to organise consultation processes to establish a
coordinated execution of international decisions and recommendations.