The Federal Council for Sustainable Development (FRDO-CFDD) advises the Belgian federal government on federal policy on sustainable development.
The FRDO-CFDD was set up in 1997 as the successor to the National Council for Sustainable Development (NRDO) which had been in operation since 1993. The Council was set up under the law of 5 May 1997 (as amended in 2010). This deals with the coordination of federal policy on sustainable development.
In the work of the Council, special attention is paid to the implementation of Belgium's international commitments, such as Agenda 21, the Climate Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity. These commitments are the result of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development which took place in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 (known as UNCED, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development). They were completed by the commitments in the context of the 2030 Agenda that Belgium signed in 2015, which includes the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that should be achieved by 2030.
The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs
In addition to the legal framework that exists at the federal level, the international framework, in the form of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, provides guidance for the work of the council. The 2030 Agenda was set in 2015 in the context of the United Nations. SDGs (sustainable development goals) form an important part of this. These SDGs apply to all countries, including Belgium. In recent years, the council has already drawn up various recommendations on the implementation of the SDGs by our country. The SDGS are also an important overarching priority for the functioning of the council.
The task of the Federal Council for Sustainable Development
The statutory duties of the Council are:
- to advise the government on all measures concerning federal policy on sustainable development and to take part in policy dialogue with members of the government;
- to serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas on sustainable development. This includes the organisation of dialogues with stakeholders in preparation for the drafting of opinions within the statutory bodies, working groups and forums.
- to provide information and raise awareness about sustainable development among citizens, individuals and public bodies. This mainly takes the form of study days, the sustainable development press award, and publications;
- to conduct research in all areas relating to sustainable development.
The advisory role of the council has over the years been broadened with additional specific tasks in the fields of product standards, international cooperation, environmental planning and programmes and marine environmental policy.
The Council draws up opinions at the request of ministers or secretaries of state, the parliament or on its own initiative. The ministers or secretaries of state subsequently inform the Council on what action the government has taken on the basis of the opinions and, where relevant, its reasons for diverging from them.
The members of the Council
The members of the Council are representatives of various social groups: environmental organisations, organisation for development cooperation, users’, employees’ and employers’ bodies, youth organisations and the scientific world. Representatives of the federal government, the language communities and the regions, and environmental councils and economic and social councils are non-voting members.