Global change and sustainable development (SPSD 1)


The programme's two general objectives are:

  • to reduce uncertainties about the extent and patterns of global environmental problems through a better understanding of the ecosystem and its interaction with socioeconomic systems to provide a firmer scientific basis for decision-making.
  • help strengthen the scientific and technical basis needed to make (federal, European and international) and implement (federal and regional) policy on Global Change and Sustainable Development, with particular reference to climate change.

    The scientific objectives are:

  • to understand the physical, chemical and biological processes of change in the Earth System and their interactions, particularly those implicated in climate change, stratospheric ozone change in the mid-latitudes, the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere (including tropospheric ozone creation) with particular attention to human-induced changes.
  • to develop methods and models to explain the operation and evolution of the climate system, its influences, and to project potential climate changes (nature, magnitude, timing).
  • to understand the effects of Global Change and especially the effects of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems, hydrological cycles, essentially in Belgium, including a risk or "vulnerability" assessment; The results must be compiled and globalized in a report relevant to Belgium;
  • to develop tools (models, methods,...) with which to evaluate the consequences of policy options.

    The strategic objectives are:

  • to provide the information necessary to identify and understand the problems;
  • to evaluate the policy options (effectiveness, cost, side effects, sustainability,...);
  • to provide policy-makers with contextual information and knowledge.

    The expertise developed must support Belgian international policy-making, and the national communications which Belgium is required to make under the Climate Convention, the European Council Decision for a monitoring mechanism of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions, and in the framework of the CSD (Council for Sustainable Development).

  • Objectives The research programme is one of the five thematic programmes of the "Scientific support plan for a sustainable development policy". The programme is a balanced mix of the basic research essential to reducing a series of uncertainties (understanding the fundamental processes of the Earth System, natural climate variability and the effect of anthropogenic or human-induced change) and the more urgent research needed to support policy decisions. It is targeted as a priority on the needs deriving from the Climate Convention. It draws on the wealth of expertise developed out of the Global Change programme (1990-1995) in such varied areas as climate modelling, changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere, the impacts of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems and hydrological cycles. The nature and scale of the problem require that what has traditionally been disciplinary research should reposition itself in a wider framework. The present programme is therefore attentive to spatial and temporal scales and a multidisciplinary focus.
    Start-End 01/12/1996 -  30/11/2000
    Organisation Belspo - Research Programmes Department
    Budget (€) 17,830,981.24
    Projects - - Biogeochemical cycles of Forest Ecosystems Related to Global Change and Sustainable Development
    - - Experimental studies of atmospheric changes
    - - Integrated modelling of the hydrological cycle in a view of climate change
    - - Recent ENSO and Paleo-ENSO of the last 1000 years in lake Tanganyika
    - - The carbon cycle and the future level of atmospheric CO2