Country profiles

Belgium

 

 

 

The sources used to compile the health and adaptation information for country profiles vary across countries. For EU Member States, information is based on their official adaptation reporting: 2021 adaptation reporting under the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action (see EU Adaptation ReportingClimate-ADAPT Country Profiles) and 2019 adaptation reporting under the EU Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Mechanism Regulation. These two reporting mechanisms are together referred to here as “EU official reporting on adaptation”. Note: The relevant information has been copied from the EU official reporting on adaptation (submitted until July 21, 2021), without further elaborating the contents of the text. Some information, valid at the time of reporting, may no longer be valid today. Any necessary additions to the text are clearly highlighted. 

In addition, information collated in the Adaptation preparedness scoreboard country fiches (2018) and the WHO study on Public health and climate change adaptation policies in the European Union (2018) are presented. Note: Some information, valid at the time of publication, may no longer be valid today. Any necessary additions to the text are clearly highlighted. 

Information sources for non-EU member countries of the EEA are more limited. 

 

Information from EU official reporting on adaptation. GovReg reporting (2021), MMR reporting (2019)

Health is addressed as a priority sector in the Belgian National Adaptation Plan (NAP, 2017-2020 [editors]). A lot of actions laid out in the NAP are transversal. Besides these actions, there are three health-specific actions:

  • Measure 8 of the NAP: "Consideration of climate change impacts and adaptation needs under the future National Environmental Health Action Plan (NEHAP)"

An organisation was assigned to the task of carrying out the study of the impact of climate change on the healthcare system in Belgium. This will form the basis of, and provide a first insight into, the possible adaptation measures that can be taken to strengthen the resilience of the health system and avoid cascading effects. The study took place in early 2021 (January - June).

  • Measure 9 of the NAP: "Make specialists in the field of healthcare aware of the effects of climate change (Health)"

The award was granted in 2018. The modules were delivered, and the thesis and launch of the test phases completed.

  • Measure 11 of the NAP: "Coordination of preventive planning and management measures in case of climate change emergencies"

The Crisis Center is setting up a new structure to professionalize risk analysis by taking into account climate change on the different risk categories (man-made, natural, technological and health risks). Subsequently, a methodology will be developed to focus on the response to priority risks, both in terms of recommendations for preventive measures and in terms of emergency preparedness. Health is among the sectors addressed in the adaptation plans for the national and regional (Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia) levels.

An Indicator report and regularly updated website include communication on health.

Transboundary co-operation with the Netherlands and Luxembourg is on-going on an ad-hoc basis through the Benelux secretariat, including a thematic workshop and table-top exercises on adaptation and health.

Information from Adaptation preparedness scoreboard. Country fiches (2018)

The main implementation instrument in Wallonia is the 'AirClimate-Energy Plan 2016 – 2022', adopted on 21 April 2016, including detailed adaptation actions for sectors including the health sector to deal with climate change impacts and vulnerabilities.

Evidence of mainstreaming in sectors is reported in the 7th National Communication report across many sectors, including health.

Information from WHO publication. Public health and climate change adaptation policies in the European Union (2018)

Climate change and health are discussed as an agenda item in the existing national environment and health action plan, organised by the National Cell Environment-Health – an institution that coordinates and informs all environment and/or health policy levels in the country. This is a working group of the Joint Interministerial Conference of Environment and Health, in which the different Belgian administrations of health and environment are represented, and which is the focal point for the European Environment and Health Process in Belgium.

Belgium has not done a national assessment but has conducted studies at the regional (Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia) and federal levels. These preliminary studies covered several sectors, including health, and were the first step towards developing regional and federal adaptation plans.

Climate change challenges are taken into account in the latest version of public health procedures and policies in Belgium. This is also the case for the latest version of the national ozone and heat action plan.

Health plans and policies always consider vulnerable populations; these groups are usually identified by the Belgian Superior Health Council. Extreme climatic phenomena, such as tropical days, pose a risk of overheating, heat stroke, dehydration and health complications, especially for elderly people and small children. In these situations, people are informed about the risks via radio and television.

A new working group on exotic mosquitoes and other vectors was established, along with action to strengthen vector surveillance. In 2016, the working group developed an exotic mosquito active monitoring plan.

WHO case studies from publication. Public health and climate change adaptation policies in the European Union (2018)

Ozone and Heat Working Group

The Ozone and Heat Working Group is a permanent working group coordinating action across all government administrations (federal, regional and community) involved in the national ozone and heat action plan. Established in 2003, it is also a sub-working group of the National Cell Environment-Health. The parties involved include both environment actors (considering negative health impacts of air pollutants such as ozone and nitrogen oxides) and health actors (working on preventing the negative effects of high temperatures and linked air pollutants). The members joined forces and budgets in setting up projects to model the health effects of high temperatures and air pollutants. The Group’s work has led to a more coordinated approach on high temperature and high ozone concentrations in Belgium: all regions and communities use the same approach and thresholds to announce the onset of the warning phase.

Monitoring of exotic mosquitoes

Following the discovery of exotic mosquitoes at various sites in the country, Belgian ministers of environment and public health established a national working group on exotic mosquitoes and other vectors, aiming to control vectors and the diseases they could transmit, taking into account the competences and responsibilities of the ministries and merging material and human resources. Furthermore, the group’s representatives aim to identify all government actors involved in this area in the country and to clarify processes and procedures. The first major action and three-year project initiated by the working group in 2016 was the Monitoring of Exotic Mosquitoes in Belgium project. A national mechanism is expected to be created by the end of the project.

Resources in the Observatory catalogue on Belgium