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Last update:Aug 08, 2019

Item Status Links
National Adaptation Strategy
  • Adopted
National Adaptation Plan
  • Adopted
Impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessments
  • Completed
  • Completed
  • Completed
  • Completed
Research programs
  • Completed
  • Currently being undertaken
  • Currently being undertaken
  • Currently being undertaken
Meteorological observations
  • Established
Climate projections and services
  • Established
  • Established
CC IVA portals and platforms
  • Established
  • Established
  • Established
  • Established
  • Established
Monitoring, indicators, methodologies
  • Established
  • Established
  • Established
  • Established
Monitoring Mechanism Regulation
  • Last reporting on Adaptation (Art. 15) submitted
National Communication on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Last National Communication Submitted

Adaptation in Belgium is mainstreamed at different levels: at national level, within the National Adaptation Strategy and Plan, which contains actions that are complementary to those contained in the regional (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels) and federal plans. Also, adaptation is mainstreamed at local level with the municipalities who have signed the Covenant of Mayors. To take national decisions there are commissions/coordination committees where governments and ministries are represented. For climate, the National Climate Commission (NCC) deals with domestic climate issues and the Coordination Committee for International Environmental Policy (CCIEP) treats the international environmental affairs. To prepare the work and decisions for the NCC and CCIEP there are working groups. The working group adaptation (CABAO) is the only working group working on adaptation both under NCC and CCIEP. The NCC is responsible for the development, adoption and implementation of the NAS and the NAP.

Adaptation Strategies

The NAS has been adopted in 2010 and the NAP in 2017. The strategy describes the main climate change impacts, the existing adaptation responses, a roadmap to a future National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and some policy guidelines for an adapted future. The Strategy pursues the improvement of the communication and consistency between the adaptation activities. The NAP contains 11 measures that need to be taken at national level in order to strengthen cooperation and synergies between the different entities on adaptation. The NAP complements the existing Flemish, Brussels Capital, Walloon and Federal adaptation plans. It includes some additional adaptation measures to improve the coordination and information exchange between the different governments, for example developing high-resolution climate scenarios within the Cordex.be project.

The regional and the federal governments have adopted, each in their own area of competence, adaptation plans: At Flemish level In 2013, Flanders adopted the Flemish Climate Policy Plan. It includes a section on adaptation known as the Flemish Adaptation Plan (VAP) 2013-2020. An English summary is available. This plan focuses on how the Government of Flanders intends to respond and when it will act. The primary goals are: 1. understand the Flemish vulnerability to climate change; 2. improve Flanders' ability to defend itself against the effects of climate change. The current pursuit of these goals could be described as the "climate reflex". This reflex involves screening existing and newly developed policies against the climate scenarios (goal 1), and where necessary, adapting them (goal 2). Adaptation to climate change must be cost-effective in the broadest sense of the term. This means that the costs of adaptation must be lower than the costs of the damage prevented, taking into account a number of possible uncertainties. For certain adaptation challenges, Flanders will make use of ecosystem services. These and other adaptation measures will be robust no-regret measures, will be one of the drivers of technological innovation and will include the sustainability principle. The VAP mainly has a regional focus. The departments maintain responsibility for the actions in their policy domain and will bear the cost of these actions using their usual financial resources. Local adaptation policy is in the start-up phase. A new Flemish Adaptation Plan 2021-2030 is to be adopted by the Flemish Government.

At Brussels level On 2 May 2013, the Brussels-Capital Region adopted its Air-Climate-Energy Code (known as COBRACE) which, as its name indicates, includes all the Region's policies with an impact on climate, air quality and energy management. It serves as a legal basis for its Integrated Air-Climate-Energy Plan which was adopted on 2 June 2016 and includes a section on adaptation. The Brussels-Capital Region already has thematic plans which include adaptation measures. In 2017, it adopted a new regional water management plan for the period 2017-2021 (which follows its first plan from 2012). This plan includes an integrated and global approach to all the challenges related to water management. It provides, inter alia, measures to stimulate sustainable water use and to restore the Region's hydrographic water network. This plan also includes measures to prevent and manage flood risks. Preventive measures can help ensure that the built environment is better adapted to increased precipitation, both in terms of improved soil infiltration and short-term water retention on plots of land (limits in built-up areas, choice of permeable materials, plants and green roofs, etc.). The Region has adopted the "Forêt de Soignes" management plan which includes measures to preserve or improve the forest's regenerative capacity and help it adapt to environmental change. 

At Walloon level In January 2014, the Walloon government adopted its "Climate Decree" giving a legal framework to climate policy in Wallonia. The main implementation instrument is the "Air-Climate-Energy Plan" which contains a specific section on adaptation. This section summarises the impact and vulnerability assessments and sets out detailed adaptation actions in several sectors. Water management (through the PLUIES plan against floods and the flood portal), forest management and monitoring guidelines (through the Forest Code & the Observatory of forest health) and agricultural advice (by the scientific cell GISER working together with municipalities and farmers) are some examples of these actions. The draft plan was submitted to a public survey in summer 2014 and was adopted in April 2016. More information is available on the Walloon Agency for Air & Climate Website.

At federal level The Federal contribution to the National Adaptation Plan was adopted on 28 October 2016. This contribution identifies federal adaptation actions to meet the following needs in a transversal way: - build capacity, in order to assess, anticipate and respond to the risks associated with climate change impacts (increased knowledge) - anticipate and mitigate risks and maximize the potential benefits of climate change. More information is available on the climate website of the Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment. Regional and federal plans address more sectoral actions: e.g. sigma and masterplans to protect coastal area in Flanders, forestry recommendations for Brussels and Walloon forests, agricultural advises, ... Flemish and Walloon governments also support the municipalities that have signed the Covenant of Mayors and who have to take into account adaptation in their local climate plan. This support means financial resources, methodological tools for cities, capacity building and coordination at regional level.

Implementation means

The national actions of the NAP are mainly coordinated through the National Working Group on Adaptation, mandated by the National Climate Commission. Some actions are directly funded by the budget of the National Climate Commission (e.g. elaborating a national web platform, launch of a study on socio-economic costs of adaptation) and some other actions are funded by other budget (e.g. the Cordex.be project has been funded by the Belgian Science Policy (Belspo) programme). For the federal/regional action plans and the local support, funds are coming from the federal / regional governments and the implementation and the monitoring of the regional/federal plans are assured by the same representatives that are composing the National Working Group.  

Monitoring, reporting and evaluation

Monitoring has been taking place since 2015, as part of the National Communication report. Results were disseminated in the 6th National Communication (2015-2016) and in the 7th National Communication (2017-2018) , and are accessible i.a. via the national website. A mid-term evaluation of the NAP (2017-2018) has just been finalised. It would be soon published on the National Climate Commission, as the national web platform on adaptation is not yet available and is attached to this questionnaire.

For Flanders sectoral pilots will have to report 2-yearly on the actions described in the Flemish Adaptation Plan. Flemish government has published two reports on progress (2015 and 2017) on climate change, including a section on adaptation. In Brussels, the Air-Climate-Energy Code provides two mechanisms of monitoring progress of the Brussels Integrated Air-Climate-Energy Plan (an annual publication of a synthesis of performance indicators of its implementation and a report on the state of progress of its implementation at the latest four years after its adoption). Similar monitoring mechanisms are also foreseen in Wallonia. The midterm evaluation with the federal contribution to the National Adaptation Plan has been finalised in January 2019.

Schedule and planned review/revision

No revision is foreseen before the final evaluation of the National Adaptation Plan in 2020 (same approach for the federal contribution to the National Adaptation Plan). In Flanders the next report on progress is foreseen in 2019-2020 which will include a final evaluation of the Flemish Adaptation Plan 2013-2020. The Flemish government is developing a more efficient system on monitoring of adaptation measures based on indicators for the new Flemish Adaptation Plan 2021-2030.

Climate change will affect multiple sectors. Different sectoral and cross sectoral adaptation measures have been identified at national, federal and regional level. The identification of key sectors was based on risks and vulnerabilities assessments as well as competence sharing between the different entities in Belgium. Sectors involved in adaptation are agriculture, biodiversity, built environment, coastal areas, crisis management, development cooperation, energy, environment, fisheries, forests, health, infrastructures, industry & services, research, tourism, transport, water management.

Sectors addressed in NAS/NAP

Priority sectors addressed in the NAP are agriculture, coastal areas, fishery, spatial planning and infrastructure, forests, biodiversity, energy, health, water management, tourism, industry and services, research and international cooperation. In the NAP, a lot of actions are transversal. Besides these actions, there are one specific action on the security of the energy supply (launch of a study) and two on health (integration of the climatic impacts in the National Health Action plan & education of the health professionals). Different sectoral and inter-sectoral adaptation measures have been identified at national, federal and regional level. The identification of key sectors was based on risk and vulnerability assessments as well as competence sharing between the different entities in Belgium.

Table: sectors/thematic areas addressed in federal, regional and national adaptation action plans

Federal Flanders Wallonia Brussels National
Agriculture X X
Biodiversity X X X X
Built environment X X
Coastal areas X
Crisis management X X X
Energy X X X
Environment X X (2) X
Fisheries X
Forest X X X
Health X X X
Infrastructures X (1) X X
Industry & services X
Research X X X
Tourism X X
Transport X X
Water management X X X
International cooperation X (3) X X
Transversal issues X X X X
(1) the Federal contribution to the National Adaptation Plan addresses transport infrastructures
(2) the Walloon plan addresses environment through its sections on water, forests and biodiversity, but does not contain a separate section as such
(3) the Federal contribution to the National Adaptation Plan addresses transnational cooperation under ‘Crisis management’).

Mainstreaming of adaptation

The complete information is available in the 7th national communication on climate change. Besides this report, here are some supplementary information and links with the disaster risk management policies. With regard to disaster risk management policies, the expected effects of climate change have been taken into account in the update of risk and impact analyses (2018). The update took into account the general trends induced by climate change in Belgium in the case of a Business As Usual emission scenario (RCP 8.5).

Climate change is not yet completely integrated in land use, spatial planning, urban planning and maritime planning. However, there are a few policy instruments implemented in spatial planning in Flanders that aim to avoid new developments in flood risk areas (e.g. the ‘watertoets’ and the ‘Signaalgebieden’ in Flanders).

Climate change is mentioned in maritime spatial planning. It is being taken into account throughout the planning process, but it has also lead to specific spatial decisions directly or indirectly related to climate change, e.g. the designation of a zone for a test island for coastal protection and the designation of additional zones for offshore renewable energy.

Recently, in the framework of the collaboration with municipal level, some learning sessions are organized to sensitize municipal advisers in charge of spatial planning & urbanism to climate change impacts.

At the federal level, the need for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was established in law on 13 February 2006 . The Federal Government has provided guidance on SEA via its website, since October 2017 , in order to ensure that assessments address climate change adaptation. At the Flemish level, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive 2014/52/EU was transposed into law via the Decree of 3 February 2017. Consequently, climate change adaptation is considered in EIA.

Observations and Projections

Different organisations in Belgium collect and provide data useful for the determination of the vulnerability for climate change. A non-exhaustive summary is given in the table below.

GENERAL

Meteorology and climatology (observations, forecasts, statistical analysis, etc.)

Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium (RMI)

Regional climate models and scenarios

RMI, VMM, INBO in collaboration with KULeuven, UCL, KNMI and VITO

Climate variables (greenhouse gases, aerosols) & development of models for the composition and chemistry of the atmosphere

Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy

Carbon balance

Royal Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS)

FOREST

  • Permanent inventory & monitoring of the health of the forests (e.g. monitoring changes in oak and beech trees which are particularly vulnerable to climate change);
  • Supplies knowledge on nature and its sustainable management and use

NAUTICAL

Nautical Monitoring Network: Oceanographic parameters (waves, tidal height and water) & Meteorological nautical parameters (wind, atmospheric pressure, atmospheric temperature and precipitation) & Nautical weather forecasting (tide tables, storm warnings, …)

  • The Flemish Hydrography (the Flemish Banks Monitoring Network)
  • Royal Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS)

WATER

  • Monitoring of waterways ; Impact of human activity and nature on water systems and the consequences for navigation ; Security against flooding ; Water dynamics and nature conservation ; Websites on flood, tide, rainfall and drought, (constantly updated information, instant modelling and predictions for the near future).
  • acidity of sea water

COMMUNICATION

For further information on systematic observation, see the Belgian 7th National Communication.

New climatic projections have been built for the Belgian territory in the framework of the Belgian CORDEX.be project (Combining regional downscaling expertise in Belgium: CORDEX and Beyond) which aims to combine regional downscaling expertise in Belgium. This project (2015-2017), funded by BELSPO (Belgian Science policy) brought together the different Belgian climate modelling groups. CORDEX.be makes use of the most recent IPCC scenarios (2014). The project performed impact studies on the impact of climate change on agriculture, urban heat stress, storm surges and wave heights as well as biogenic emissions. Projections towards 2100 are made in Flanders by the Flemish Environmental Agency and visualized at municipal level on their portal site. The impacts of climate change that can be consulted on the portal site are drought, heat, flooding and extreme precipitation.

Impact and Vulnerability Assessment

Impact, vulnerability and adaptation assessments have been funded and piloted at regional and federal level (Brussels, Federal, Flanders, Wallonia). These preliminary studies were the first step before starting the development of regional and federal adaptation plans. Besides these trans-sectoral studies, several specific impacts assessments have been also funded by Belgium in different sectors (coastal zones, forestry, agriculture, ...). Most of the Belgian studies can be consulted on the Circle 2 ERA-net infobase and on the different Belgian websites (LNE, Brussels Environment, AwAC, BELSPO -SSD and BRAIN-, Climatechange.be). A brief description of the major impacts and vulnerabilities for various sectors impacted by climate change in Belgium (adapted from the different regional vulnerability studies mentioned above) is given in the following table.

The economic impact of climate change is not yet fully known. Global models can be used to translate the costs for adaptation but as they are a mean for the whole of the world it's hard to translate it to local scale. Two first studies have tried to getting more knowledge about it. The first one ('Adaptatie aan klimaatverandering: Globale kosten en praktische voorbeelden') tried to have an idea of the costs on local scale through an evaluation of 4 typical quarters. The second one aimed to answer to the question "What would be the additional costs if we get today the climate of 2050?" (in other words, without any adaptation measures). The biggest costs are met in the sectors of biodiversity, water management & infrastructures and forestry. As quite some part of the costs are not yet known, it is difficult to have an overall view.

Research

The Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO) has funded research projects related to adaptation in different sectors. Several research projects have been launched to increase knowledge of climate change impacts and adaptation through the BRAIN-be program. In 2014, the call for project proposals by BELSPO included climate change adaptation as one of its four priority themes. Special attention was directed to two research activities: understanding the impacts of climate change in sectors, and developing policy decision-support tools that aim at evaluating the effects of climate change.

The BRAIN-BE call in 2016 included a call for proposals for developing a scientific support to the development of climate services. Unfortunately no projects were selected for funding. In the framework of the ERA4CS Joint Call on Researching and Advancing Climate Services Development by (A) Advanced co-development with users (B) Institutional integration, linked to the JPI Climate, in total 5 projects are funded (2 cash via BELSPO and 3 in kind via RMI). IWT, the Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology, helps Flemish companies and research centres in realizing their research and development projects. One of the projects is the project focusing on Climate change and changes in spatial structures in Flanders (CcASPAR). The Flanders Marine Institute VLIZ is providing scientific information (including on climate changes and climate change adaptation) on the sea, the coast and tidal systems. INBO is cooperating with Italian and French arborists to develop tree varieties which are better adapted to warmer climate. So, even in a changed climate, native trees can be preserved. Belgium is represented in different European research networks (for detailed information, see NC7). Research related to climate adaptation is also carried out in several other Belgian scientific institutions.

Monitoring progress

Monitoring of indicators is regularly updated on the website of the Flemish Environment Agency (VMM). A specific indicator for the urban heat island in the Flemish Region in Northern Belgium is recently developed.

 

 

Governance

The development, adoption and implementation of the different regional and federal adaptation plans and the engagement of stakeholders for those plans, are the responsibility of the respective regional and federal governments. For the Flemish adaption plan, stakeholder consultation was done by "round tables" two times in the process, once during a workshop after the first ideas were set on paper, and another time when the draft version was proposed to the different advisory boards (SARO, MINA-raad, SERV, MORA, SALV, RIVW, jeugdraad, ...). Public consultations were held on the draft plans:

  • In February-April 2014 for the draft Federal Adaptation Plan. The Federal Council for Sustainable Development also delivered an advice on this. 
  • In summer 2014 for Wallonia
  • A consultation have been held in 2015 for the Brussels Integrated Air-Climate-Energy Plan Some intersectoral and intrasectoral focus groups have also been set up at regional and federal levels.

The role of these focus groups is to exchange data, gather information on the adaptation measures currently undertaken by the various departments (bottom-up approach), to identify the objectives and priority measures to be taken and/or reporting on measures undertaken. A think tank consisting of academics and other experts on adaptation to climate change with focus on spatial planning was subsidised by the Flemish government for 3 years (2015-2017) to jointly and cross-disciplinary develop and spread knowledge on adaptation. At the same time this think tank discussed in this way required measures and to identify in advance conditions and barriers to implementation. Thus, this think tank improves innovation drive in the field of climate resilience in the Triple Helix Research-government enterprise.

Local scale is empowered by the European commission by establishing the Covenant of Mayors. Belgium was represented by 5 cities and 1 province in the first Mayor's Adapt signatory session and counts now more than 330 signatories in the new Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. The coordination is assured by 20 supra-local and regional coordinators. The Flemish government developed an instrument to support local authorities in the integration of adaption in their policies. The city of Ieper has a district named "De Vloei", which is being developed in cooperation with WVI partner of the project "Future Cities, urban networks to face climate change" (Interreg 4b). The aim is to develop a quarter adapted to climate change. The Flemish authorities for waterway management, Waterwegen en Zeekanaal NV and nv De Scheepvaart, drew up a masterplan "Water management Waterways, preview 2020", which describes how those two agencies integrate measures of climate adaptation in their projects. (Examples: construction of pumping installations and waterpower plants, renewal of lock and weir complexes, river restoration projects, ...) Actions are taken in close cooperation with customers and stakeholders.

In Wallonia, a new version of the tool to guide/help the cities to establish a diagnostic of vulnerability to climate change at the local level has been developed: the new version includes now a new module for the planning and implementation of adaptation action and it is still designed specifically for municipalities. The tool is available and provided to the municipalities in the framework of the POLLEC campaign since 2015. This initiative supports more than 180 municipalities (out of 262 Walloon municipalities) to develop a climate energy action plan. Several realisations are gathered on maps to facilitate the sharing of information and the inspiration between the municipalities.

In 2007, the Brussels Institute for the Environment Management set up an operational strategy with a view to promoting the emergence of particularly exemplary neighbourhoods with regard to sustainability in the Brussels Capital Region. This strategy concerns both existing neighbourhoods and those to be built up. Its aim is to improve the environmental quality of a neighbourhood, on the basis of citizens' initiatives which involve inhabitants and users of the concerned area. Some of measures taken in the sustainable neighbourhoods increase their resilience to the climate changes (green roof, measures about water management,...) and contribute to the climate change mitigation efforts by reducing or preventing emission of greenhouse gases. In 2013, the number of sustainable neighbourhoods in Brussels was thirty one.

Transboundary co-operation with the Netherlands and Luxembourg is on-going on an ad-hoc basis through the Benelux secretariat. A Benelux workshop on adaptation took place in November 2014 and was followed by several thematic workshops and table top exercises on public health, transport and energy.

Knowledge

Within the respect of their competencies, the different Belgian entities raise awareness and develop education to climate change. Different websites on climate and adaptation exist (see the links in the summary table at the end), documentation for schools have been developed (ex: educational files), multimedia supports are used (e.g. WMO Weather forecast 2050) to disseminate climate change information (see the links in the summary tab). A dedicated national online platform is planned for 2019 (with a committed budget) at the national level, as foreseen in the NAP. National conferences and roundtables are organized in a coordinated way by regional and federal governments as foreseen in the NAP (Measure 4 "Strengthening sectoral coordination at national level").

International dimensions

The impact of Climate Change in countries in the South can be an important source of instability in terms of food security, biodiversity loss, migration, health problems, tensions and even conflict. The Belgian development cooperation considers the fight against climate change and support for adaptation crucial elements of its policies.

The Act on Development Cooperation (March 2013) includes the protection of the environment and natural resources, including the fight against climate change as one of its transversal priorities. An Environmental Strategy for the Belgian Development Cooperation was adopted in 2014. It has three main building blocks:

  1. integration of the theme, "conserving and protecting the environment" in all activities, supported by the Belgian DC by reinforcing environmental governance (capacity development, raising awareness and the mutual transfer of knowledge, technology and skills),
  2. sector-specific approach focusing on environmental support in 4 priority areas: water, sustainable use of land and soil, forestry and urban waste management, and
  3. policy coherence for development to achieve sustainable consumption and production and to promote low carbon development.

The act on development cooperation culminated in financing several projects integrating climate adaptation in their project.

The Academic Research Platform of the Belgian Development Cooperation "KLIMOS" provides scientific support for policy makers on the following issues:

  1. sustainable natural resource management,
  2. sustainable energy and infrastructure,
  3. Environmental/ Sustainability Monitoring & Evaluation and
  4. governance for Environment & Sustainability.

KLIMOS also developed an environmental sustainability toolkit to support integration of environmental issues, including climate change, in plans, programs and projects of development cooperation. This toolkit has been reviewed and further efforts are being made to increase its use by all actors of the Belgian Development Cooperation.

Belgium is also involved in international adaptation funding under the UNFCCC. Belgian Governments have contributed to the international climate finance through the implementation of bilateral projects (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels Region, Federal) and participation in the Adaptation Fund and other multilateral funds, such as the Green Climate Fund (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels Region, Federal) and Least Developed Countries Fund (Federal).

National Working Group on Adaptation
This working group coordinates the adaptation policy in Belgium

Julien Hoyaux

Coordinator of the Working Group

Walloon Air & Climate Agency - Avenue Prince de Liège, 7 5100 Jambes Belgium

Tel. +32 81 33 59 41

Mail Julien.HOYAUX@spw.wallonie.be

Website https://www.cnc-nkc.be/fr/gt-adaptation 

 

 

[Disclaimer]
The information presented in these pages is based on the reporting according to the Monitoring Mechanism Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 525/2013) and updates by the EEA member countries