Treaties & Conventions
The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences is one of the big players among the great natural history museums of Europe, and joins forces with many foreign partners at every level.The Institute participates in and coordinates numerous European research projects where, as part of large consortia, it helps establish platforms for exchanging and accessing data and services in fields such as geology, marine research or taxonomy. It also has the mandate to set up numerous projects on science and society through its museum and its public-oriented services in cooperation with international partners, museums and science centres. You will find details of our international cooperation below.
UN Convention on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to protect the global diversity of ecosystems, species and genes was signed in Rio in 1992. The convention has three objectives: conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of biodiversity and the sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources. Currently, 193 countries and the EU have signed this agreement. Each country has to designate a national focal point to promote the implementation of the Convention on Biodiversity.
For Belgium, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences was designated as the national focal point for the CBD. In this capacity, it has taken on different tasks, including the coordination of the National Biodiversity Strategy, reporting on the operation of the convention in Belgium, and guiding the political decision-making at various policy levels. The institute also organizes training programmes and awareness-raising campaigns about biodiversity, such as "I give life to my planet” (dutch / french).
Three thematic focal points are located at the RBINS. These are the CBD information mechanism (Clearing House Mechanism, CHM), the Global Taxonomy Initiative, GTI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, SBSTTA)
Would you like more information? Please do not hesitate to contact the National Focal Point for Biodiversity.
CBD National Focal Point: Patrick Grootaert
Clearing House Mechanism focal point: Han de Koeijer
Global Taxonomic Initiative focal point: Marie-Lucie Susini
SBSTTA: Hendrik Segers
Development cooperation programme focal point: Luc Janssens de Bisthoven
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement intended to combat the illegal trade in endangered plant and animal species. Various scientists from the RBINS serve on the board of CITES and provide advice and technical support to policy makers. In addition, our scientists are consulted during actions by the police or customs to determine violations and identify intercepted species.
With this convention 15 countries near the western coasts of Europe and the EU protect the various unique and fragile marine areas of the northwest Atlantic Ocean. Working from the RBINS, the Directorate Natural Environment brings this convention into practice. For instance, with the oceanographic vessel Belgica continually monitors the quality of the Belgian part of the North Sea and plays an important role in the scientific frame of the convention.
The OSPAR Commission also issues publications providing background information and special reports. Every 10 years a Quality Status Report (QRS) is drawn up, which provides general assessments of the marine environment and the impact of human activities. Most recent QRS (2010) evaluates the efficiency of the actions that were undertaken to protect the marine environment. This allows us to adapt our priorities and assure an adapted protection of the area.
Contactperson: Patrick Roose
CMS (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals) or Bonn Convention
The Bonn Convention, negotiated in 1979, is under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, has been signed by over 120 States to date. The purpose of the convention is the conservation of migratory animals and their habitats. The RBINS has an advisory role in relation to the convention, particularly on the conservation of land mammals, and various programmes for the conservation of migratory species and their habitats have been initiated and coordinated by our Directorate Natural Environment. The Directorate Natural Environment is also involved in this convention in relation to migratory animals in the North Sea (including small and large species of cetaceans) and carries out work based on specially drawn-up treaties, such as ASCOBANS.
Contactperson: Roseline C. Beudels-Jamar
The London Convention (in full ‘the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter’) has been signed by 87 states. Our Directorate Natural Environment performs tasks in this context including monitoring and investigating the dumping of dredged material at sea. In practice, this implies charting dredging sites, maintaining statistics on quantities of dredged material and the development of a sediment transport model, among other tasks.
Contactperson: Brigitte Lauwaert
MARPOL stands for 'marine pollution' and was established to prevent the pollution by ships (by fuels, harmful substances on board, sewage, etc.). Our Directorate Natural Environment carries out active aerial surveillance from military reconnaissance aircraft to track pollution at sea and along the Belgian coast, and to actively pursue polluters.
Contactperson: Ronny Schallier
ASCOBANS (Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas) was set up in 1991 under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) and came into force in 1994. By-catch, pollution and other threats had to be tackled in a co-ordinated effort. Our Directorate Natural Environment organises an intervention network that is responsible for scientific research on mammals and birds that wash up on beaches or are killed as by-catch.
Contactperson: Jan Haelters
This convention was drawn up in 1983 as a reaction to the disaster with the Torry Canyon in 1967, in which 117,000 tonnes of oil were spilt into the sea. The convention has been signed by Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the European Union. The disaster made those countries aware of the far-reaching consequences of such an event and of the necessity of international cooperation. The convention includes coordinated air control, an information exchange, common exercises and mutual support in case of disasters. Our Directorate Natural Environment takes on the execution of some aspects in the convention, such as organising control flights and marine exercises. It works closely together with partners in the coastguard to fulfil this aim.
Contactperson: Ronny Schallier
Both the River Scheldt and the Maas (Meuse) have their source in France, run through Belgium and the Netherlands and finally flow into the North Sea. To promote sustainable and integrated water management, which aims among other things to improve water quality, treaties have been signed concerning both rivers between the various levels of government in Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Our Directorate Natural Environment is a partner in the execution of monitoring programmes in the Scheldt basin. This happens in cooperation with the Belgian regions and France, within the international Scheldt Commission. Recently those programmes were brought in line with the stipulations of the Water Framework Directive of the European Commission.
Contactperson: Patrick Roose
The Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was established in April 2012 in Panama by 94 UN Member States, to protect the planet’s biodiversity, its ecosystems and the services they provide to humanity. It provides a mechanism that should enable both the scientific and policy communities to synthesise, review, assess and critically evaluate relevant information and knowledge generated worldwide by governments, academia, scientific organisations, non-governmental organisations and indigenous communities. IPBES is unique in that it aims to strenghten the capacity for the effective use of science in decision-making at all levels. By doing so, it hopes to gain similar global scientific authority and policy influences for biodiversity to what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has for climate change. Being part of our Directorate Natural environment, the Belgian Biodiversity Platform is taking a leading role in coordinating IPBES-related tasks for Belgium (one of the founding members). It hosts the IPBES national focal point, and runs several Belgian scientific networks in support of the IPBES work, such as
Contactperson: Hilde Eggermont