The council

The Federal Council for Sustainable Development (FRDO-CFDD) advises the Belgian federal government on sustainable development policy.

The FRDO-CFDD was established in 1997 to succeed the National Council for Sustainable Development, which had been functioning since 1993. The council was established by the law of 5 May 1997 (amended in 2010). So there is a legal framework for sustainable development policy at the federal level. Not very many countries in the world have such a framework.

Sustainable development policy

Besides the FRDO-CFDD, as an advisory council, there are other departments at the federal level that deal with sustainable development. There is the Federal Institute for Sustainable Development, which, as a government department, supports policy. There is the Sustainable Development Task Force of the Federal Planning Bureau, which maps how policies are evolving through valuable studies. At the level of the various government departments, there are also the Interdepartmental Commission on Sustainable Development and special policy cells.

The law provides for a federal sustainable development plan to be made for each policy period, which defines the actions needed to achieve a sufficiently ambitious policy. In addition, interim federal reports are published to chart whether there is enough progress.

In our country, the regions also have elaborate sustainable development policies. Joint policy agreements are made in the Interministerial Conference on Sustainable Development.

17 SDGs

Besides all this, there is a strongly developed international framework to achieve strong sustainable development policies worldwide. This happens mainly in the UN context. A lot has happened since the famous Rio Conference in 1992. Currently, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the vision endorsed by the entire global community. An important part of it are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Belgium also endorsed the 17 SDGs in 2015, which should be achieved by 2030. Within the federal plan for sustainable development and the functioning of the FRDO, the SDGs play a major role.

What does the  FRDO-CFDD do?

The council’s statutory missions are to:

  • provide advice to government on all kinds of aspects of sustainable development policy
  • to be a forum for an exchange of views on sustainable development and a space for policy dialogue between civil society groups and the government
  • inform and raise awareness
    about sustainable development to citizens, organisations and public services
  • propose research in all areas related to sustainable development.

The council fulfils this mission to the best of its ability, including in the following ways:

  • make opinions, at the request of the government or parliament, or on its own initiative
  • organise direct dialogue between members of the government and civil society organisations, e.g. on climate or trade policy
  • actively cooperate with other advisory councils and government departments at the federal and regional levels
  • organise seminars and conferences on relevant current sustainable development issues
  • publish general and more specialised newsletters, on its own operation or on international policy (the European Green Deal, the 2030 Agenda, etc.)
  • commission studies by researchers and then disseminate the results through public activities
    build a network of scientists who are experts in various aspects of a sustainable development policy
  • give presentations in schools, colleges or universities
  • actively cooperate in a European and international network of advisory councils and sustainable development experts

The members of the council

Council members are representatives of various societal groups: environmental organisations, development cooperation organisations, consumer, worker and employer organisations, youth organisations and the scientific community. Representatives of the federal government, communities and regions and environmental and socio-economic councils are non-voting members.

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