Tag Archives: climate


from our special correspondant in Nantes, our publisher Miguel D. DESNERCK

The Eco-City world summit opens today in Nantes (France).

Nantes is this year the European Green Capital for the whole european union. This title was awarded to Nantes two years ago as a city which made many efforts to contribute to a zero-emission, sustainable and green city.

the "Ile de Nantes", a major place in the redevelopment of the city. Pic: nantes Metropole

the “Ile de Nantes”, a major place in the redevelopment of the city. Pic: nantes Metropole

Today, Nantes hosts a very important world summit with the contribution of UN Habitat and the PNUE.

Responsibles of lots of world cities gather for three day to draw the lines of a new sustainability policy for the next generation. Meetings, discussions and informal get together will help shaping new policy initiatives to contribute to better liveable cities with in their mind sustainability, green policies and exchanges between the inhabitants.

We come back on this very important summit.



As of 19 July, Myanmar/Burma is set to benefit once again from a special, advantageous trade arrangement with the EU after the country’s recent efforts to improve the political, social and labour environments there. The EU will bring the country back under the so-called ‘Everything But Arms’ preferential trade regime which will grant duty-free and quota-free access to the European market for all products except for arms and ammunitions.


The trade preferences for Myanmar/Burma will be applied retroactively as of 13 June 2012, the day when the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference first recognised progress in the labour rights situation in Myanmar/Burma. The EU’s trade preferences had been suspended in 1997 as a result of the country’s serious and systematic violations of core international conventions on forced labour.

‘Everything But Arms’ is part of the EU’s ‘Generalised Scheme of Preferences’. It is important for helping developing countries boost their economy by providing them with tariff preferences for their exports to the EU. Myanmar/Burma will benefit from the ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme because the United Nations classifies it as a ‘Least Developed Country’ (LDC).

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said: “Trade is fundamental to supporting political stability and the EU’s trade preferences mean we will give this reform-minded country priority access to the world’s largest market. This has the potential to make a huge difference to the country’s economic development and to bring real benefits to the people there. The EU is also going to help Myanmar boost the capacity of both public and private firms to make use of these new opportunities.”

The Council and the European Parliament signed the legislation on the re-admittance of trade preferences on 12 June. The agreement came on the heels of the Council’s earlier decision on 22 April 2013 to lift all sanctions against Myanmar/Burma, except for the arms embargo. The Commission believes that, despite the many structural constraints the country continues to face, under the ‘Everything But Arms’ preferential trade regime Myanmar/Burma should see an increase in exports to the EU.

What is next?

The legal act to re-instate the trade preferences was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 29 June. This legal act stated that the preferential trade scheme enters into force twenty days later, i.e. on 19th July.

As the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference officially recognised progress in the labour rights situation in Myanmar/Burma’s on 13 June 2012, the trade preferences for Myanmar/Burma will be applied retroactively as of that date. It was the ILO’s decision which allowed the EU to launch its reinstatement procedure (IP/12/971).

Subject to the retroactive submission and approval of the relevant certificate of origin, exporters in Myanmar/Burma will be able to claim back the import duties paid since 13 June 2012.

EU-Myanmar/Burma trade in facts and figures

Myanmar/Burma exports to the EU totalled €164 million in 2012 —this is approximately 3% of the country’s total exports to the world, and 0.01% of the EU’s total imports. These limited exports to the EU are concentrated on clothing.

Historical Background

Since 1971, the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) has allowed developing countries to pay lower import tariffs on some or all of their exports to the EU.

There are three main variants (arrangements) of the scheme:

  • the standard GSP scheme, which offers generous tariff reductions to developing countries. Practically, this means partial or entire removal of tariffs on two thirds of all product categories.
  • the “GSP+” enhanced preferences means full removal of tariffs on essentially the same product categories as those covered by the general arrangement. These are granted to countries which ratify and implement international conventions relating to human and labour rights, environment and good governance;
  • Everything but Arms” (EBA) scheme for least developed countries (LDCs), which grants duty-free quota-free access to all products, except for arms and ammunitions.

The EU has adopted a reformed GSP law on 31 October 2012 – (IP/12/1168) which provides additional export opportunities to those most in need, amongst which LDCs feature prominently. In order to allow ample time for economic operators to adapt to the new scheme, the new preferences will apply as of 1 January 2014.

Preferential access to the EU market can be suspended if beneficiary countries engage in serious and systematic violations of core human rights or labour rights conventions, as established by the competent monitoring bodies of the United Nations or the International Labour Organisation.


Rue Montoyer is not an unknown street for all those who go to the european parliament and lots of lobbyists. It’s in the european district of Brussels thus, not far away from Luxemburg place and Immobel inaugurated yesterday the start of the construction of a new building: BLACK PEARL


On this place, the former building of EULER HERMES was old and has been destroyed. The idea was to replace it by an eco-friendly offices building equipped with all new eco-friendly techniques to become a passive building. This building received the BREEAM EXCELLENT certificate. it is built by building contractor HERPAIN.

This building will have a surface of 11000m2 and 2500m2 (undergorund).  There we bill also parkings with reload pillars for electric cars.

The general manager of Immobel (a listed company)  Gaëtan Piret stated: “Wit this exemplary building in the heart of brussels european district, Immobel has the ambition to develop  modernist real estate projects and to give an answer to the low enegry challenges ahead.”.

The ceremony took place in presence of brussels regional minister Evelyne Huytebroeck and Geoffroy Coomans de Brachène, alderman in Brussels.




Summary Report of the Symposium : Inventory, Challenges and
Recently, a symposium took place at Leiden University on  May 16th, 2013 on legal and policy aspects of space  cooperation between Europe and BRICS Countries.

In 2009, the BRIC countries (Brasil, India, China, Russia, South-Africa)  assembled a flexible political and economic grouping of major developing countries.

The interdisciplinary event was jointly organized by the International Institute
of Air and Space Law of Leiden Law School and the Department of Latin American
Studies of Leiden University’s Faculty of Humanities.



The international “Green Key” eco-label, which distinguishes tourist establishments for their
environmental performance, has just been awarded to 6 new candidates in Brussels, bringing to 28
the number of facilities in the Brussels-Capital Region with the label. 80% youth hostels and
accommodation centres for young people in Brussels recognised by the French Community
Commission (COCOF) now have the “Green Key” label.

Sustainability is known to be a further important feature of tourism today, with institutional buyers
(for conferences) and some visitors (holiday makers) seeking “green” products. In response to this
phenomenon, eco-labels and other accreditations have proliferated, at the risk of spreading
confusion. In order to support the hotel industry and other types of tourist facilities in the BrusselsCapital region, Christos Doulkeridis, Brussels Minister for Tourism, wanted to adopt a clear,
recognised label which would see Brussels positioned as a sustainable destination by 2014. At the
end of 2010, following a process of reflection and independent analysis, he opted for the
international “Green Key” label represented in Wallonia and Brussels by the Inter-Environment
Association for Wallonia (IEW).
The Green Key label operates based on a system of mandatory criteria[1], which candidates must
satisfy in full, and optional criteria, in respect of which candidates must gain a minimum of one third
of the total points at stake. Establishments awarded the label, therefore, comply with a series of
requirements in a number of fields and are distinguished by the measures they undertake in order to
satisfy the optional criteria. Green Key labels are awarded twice a year for a period of one year and
establishments must demonstrate continuous improvement from one year to the next in terms of
environmental management.
The Brussels hotel sector currently has almost 2,500 “Green Key” rooms, representing almost 16% of
the hotel rooms recognised by COCOF. In terms of accommodation for young people, almost 80% of
[1] In order to be accredited, Green Key candidates must satisfy criteria relating to water, energy and waste
management, the promotion of eco-friendly transport and activities in the natural environment, cleaning,
catering, the management of green spaces and the interior environment, administration and office facilities,
environmental management in general and information to and involvement of customers and staff. The label
combines environmental performance criteria (strictly eco-label criteria) and environmental management (EMS
criteria).the capacity is accredited, with the label now awarded to 4 out of 5 Brussels hostels and centres
recognised by COCOF, i.e. 4/5ths of the available beds.
Below is a list of establishments accredited in the “first round” of 2013 together with one example
for each of a good environmental practice – amongst numerous others – justifying their
The Diamant Brussels Conference & Business Centre (80 Bd. A. Reyerslaan, 1030 Brussels –
http://www.diamant.be): conference centre with 20 meeting rooms, located between the
European District and Zaventem Airport, which is distinguished inter alia by initiatives in
terms of sustainable food and in particular the number of vegetarian dishes available to
The B&B Chambre Chocolat (145 rue de la Cambre, 1150 Brussels –
http://www.bruxelleschambredhote.net/): bed and breakfast located a stone’s throw from
Montgomery Square, which offers more sustainable solutions in terms of energy (high
performance boiler and solar panels) and transport (provision of bicycles for visitors to use).
Le Méridien Bruxelles (3 Carrefour de l’Europe, 1000 Brussels –
14): hotel located in the centre of the city, which has developed interesting initiatives in
particular in relation to waste (recycling bins for toiletries and food packaging) and transport
(reduction for guests using public transport).
The Brussels Generation Europe Youth Hostel (4 rue de l’Eléphant, 1080 Brussels –
http://www.lesaubergesdejeunesse.be/Bruxelles-Generation-Europe,302?lang=fr): youth
hostel in Molenbeek, near the Saint-Géry district, which is distinguished inter alia by its
policy in terms of societal responsibility and the steps taken to reduce water consumption
The Foyer Européen (17 rue Traversière, 1210 Brussels – http://www.etr-brussels.be): centre
located near the botanical gardens, which provides accommodation for European students
and is distinguished by rational water management (use of rain water, restriction on flow
rates) and a green roof.
The Sleep Well Youth Hostel (23 rue du Damier, 1000 Brussels – http://www.sleepwell.be): located
5 minutes from the Grand Place, this youth hostel is distinguished in particular by the local,
organic and fair trade products available to guests and the use of renewable energy (100 %
green electricity).
In addition, seven establishments had their accreditation renewed: the Radisson Blu Royal (47 Rue
du Fossé-aux-Loups, 1000 Brussels) and the Radisson Blu EU (35 rue d’Idalie, 1050 Brussels), the
Auberge des 3 Fontaines (2057 chaussée de Wavre, 1160 Brussels), the BiHome B&B (15 avenue
Maréchal Foch, 1030 Brussels), the Stanhope hotel (9 rue du Commerce, 1000 Brussels), the hotel
Dolce La Hulpe Brussels (135 chaussée de Bruxelles, 1310 La Hulpe), the hotel Le Plaza (118-126
boulevard Adolphe Max, 1000 Brussels).
Supported in particular by the Brussels Hotels Association (BHA), this initiative is managed by
the Inter-Environment Association for Wallonia, official partner of the FEE for Brussels and Wallonia,
in close collaboration with Wallonie-Bruxelles Tourisme (WBT), VISITBRUSSELS,Brussels Booking Desk (BBD) and the trade associations Hostels in Brussels, Bed &
Brussels and Brussels Special Venue, as well as the Brussels tourist department in COCOF.


SusChem is an initiative of CEFIC (the european Chemical industry council), academics and the industrial world to conduct a reflexion about sustainable chemistry in Europe in the future.

SusChem stakeholders met on may 14th and 15th in Brussels to discuss resource efficiency, water efficiency, raw materials and energy materials/smart cities.

BRUSSELS DIPLOMATIC intervewed Dr gernotz Klotz, the vice-president of SusChem who explained us what is and what does Suschem






Coastal development and sustainable maritime tourism are the focus themes of this year’s edition of European Maritime Day. For two days in Valletta, Malta, experts from all maritime sectors and from all over Europe will discuss how to drive the tourism industry forward and maintain its position not only as a sector for sustainable growth, but also as a crucial driver for the wider economy and a key contributor to the EU’s Blue Growth agenda.

Every year on May 20 ‘maritime Europe’ is celebrated within the European Union to showcase the importance of the seas and oceans for our everyday life. The European Maritime Day conference is now the place where stakeholders from all maritime sectors meet and discuss opportunities and challenges for the maritime regions and sectors across Europe. The theme for this year’s conference is “Coastal development and sustainable maritime tourism: an investment for blue growth”.


Tourism is the largest sector of the maritime industry, providing employment for 2.35 million people and producing over €100bn value added to the EU economy every year. Crucially, the sector has remained remarkably resilient over the last few difficult years and continues to offer employment opportunities in coastal regions which are often isolated and which may not have extensive economic activities elsewhere. But seasonality and a lack of new, innovative concepts keep it from delivering its full potential in terms of growth and jobs.

The 6th edition of European Maritime Day will explore the road towards innovative and sustainable forms of tourism. Discussions will feed into a Communication by the European Commission on Coastal and Maritime Tourism scheduled for later this year. Issues specific to islands, such as connectivity and mobility, will also be at the heart of the Conference, while specific working groups will be devoted to the future of the cruise sector, marine and coastal management and the economic development of the Mediterranean Sea basin.

Dr Edward Zammit-Lewis, the Maltese Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth will kick off these celebrations on Sunday 19 May, with several public events in and around Valletta showcasing the diversity of the sea: maritime research, threats to the marine environment, fishing, shipping, ports, marine national parks, energy and so on. Most of the events happening on the 19th and 20th May are free of charge.

On May 21, the conference will be opened by high-level keynote speakers including Ms Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mr. Karmenu Vella, Maltese Minister for Tourism, Dr Chris Cardona, Malta’s Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, and Ms Catharina Elmsäter–Svärd, Swedish Minister of Infrastructure. The other plenary sessions will be chaired by politicians, experts and CEOs and will discuss current challenges and opportunities for the maritime economy and for Blue Growth. The day will end with a concert by internationally renowned tenor Joseph Calleja.

May 22 is Stakeholders’ Day: 19 different workshops on as many with topics, for all conference participants to pick and choose. A wide range of policy initiatives related to seas and oceans will be discussed. Exhibition booths will also be set up at the venue and exhibitors will showcase the seas and oceans and the possibilities they offer. More events are being held all over Europe.

European Maritime Day is a unique opportunity to gather the whole maritime community in one place, take stock of progress and focus minds on ideas and priorities ahead.


The 6th edition of the European Maritime Day Conference will be held in Valletta (Malta) on 21 and 22 May 2013. It is organised by the European Commission (Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) in partnership with the Maltese Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, and the Maltese Ministry for Tourism.

Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Mr Karmenu Vella, Maltese Minister for Tourism and Dr Chris Cardona, Maltese Minister for Economy, Investment and Small Business will join other European ministers and personalities at the Conference.

European Maritime Day was created by a tripartite declaration by the Presidents of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU on 20 May 2008. It is celebrated every year on and around 20 May and aims to raise the visibility of Maritime Europe. The previous editions of European Maritime Day were held in Brussels (2008), Rome (2009), Gijon (2010), Gdansk (2011) and Gothenburg (2012) respectively.


On Friday 26th May 2013, the headquarters of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) hosted the event “Kuona Afrika”, a Business forum aiming to promote investment in Africa and to foster Market linkages between actors in tourism, travel and trade Industry.


The event was attended by numerous diplomats and business women and men. During the ceremony the incoming Secretary General of the ACP group, His Excellency Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni has officially launched the «Kuona Afrika Magazine”. This magazine aims to spread a positive image of Africa and to present it as an ideal tourist, trade and investment destination to make a difference from the message conveyed by mass media. The magazine presents African discovery, Business world, Energy, Cultural creations, Treasures and Flavours. As highlighted by the attendees, Africa has to be proud of its potentials in terms of natural and human resources. The speakers emphasised the need of diversifying trade and investment to boost African development and identified areas of business opportunities on the continent. The ceremony has been followed by the “African alliance business dinner” accompanied by a live Soul performance by Ebby Drenthe, the nominated “Miss Autumn Leaves”.



SAINKT-PETERSBURG: EU-commissionner for regional policy Johannes HAHN gave today a speech in Sankt-Petersburg (Russia) about “environment as key issue of the baltic cooperation strategy”

Johannes Hahn

Here is what he said today in front of russian prime minister D. Medvedev:

“Prime Minister Medvedev,

Your Excellencies,

Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I will never forget my first day as EU Commissioner for Regional Policy. It was the Baltic Sea Action Summit in Helsinki back in February 2010. I could not have had a better introduction to the crucial impact regional action can have and the importance of regions working together to achieve common goals.

So I am delighted to be here once again to represent President Barroso, and we are all grateful to our Russian hosts for the excellent organisation of this important event.

It is important because environmental challenges do not recognise man-made borders. Climate change, pollution, and natural disasters all require that we join our efforts at local, regional and national level – and with our international partners.

The truth is that nature does not need mankind – but mankind cannot advance without nature. Good environmental management is central to modern economic development.

The marine environment of the fragile Baltic Sea is key to the prosperity and well-being of all our people. That is why it is at the heart of the European Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. And why it is the core of co-operation between the EU and Russia in this region, through HELCOM and the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership.

The EU Baltic Sea Strategy is a relatively young initiative providing a new form of co-operation between the countries of the region. It allows particularly the EU Member States around the sea basin to plan strategically together and maximise the impact they can achieve with the public and private funds available.

As we develop and refine this new way of working together, it is clear to me that the dominant focus must remain our common interest in saving the sea. Without this, our two other chief concerns, connecting the region and building prosperity, make little sense.

It is still early days, but we can already claim some important progress through the EU Strategy. We have stimulated commitments to phase out the phosphates in detergents that contribute to eutrophication. We have mobilised farmers to adopt better practice to avoid pollution of the sea. And we have launched pilot investments in nutrient removal in four key municipal wastewater treatment plants.

To be successful, we need to work together. We need the full support of all the stakeholders involved in areas that have an impact on the environmental condition of the sea.

Of course, co-operation with Russia is of paramount importance. We look forward to strengthening our work together – including through the Baltic Sea Region programme, in which I hope Russia will soon become a full partner.

Our cooperation has intensified in recent years as Russia has moved to modernise its environmental policies. The personal commitment of Prime Minister Medvedev and President Putin has been key in prioritising work in this field – with 2013 named a Year of Environmental Protection. The EU particularly welcomes the programme for environmental protection till 2020 adopted last year.

This is an essential partnership – driven by common interests and objectives. But it is one in which we will be judged by results. The high level participation here today speaks for the determination and political commitment there is to ensure we protect the heart of this region. However, our will to succeed must be translated into actions and I look forward to the next HELCOM ministerial meeting later this year that will review progress and decide on the next steps to be taken.

And, while we are thinking ahead, let me also invite you all to the next annual forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region which will be held in Vilnius on 11-12 November.

Prime minister, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

We are all here today because we believe in co-operating across borders to find pragmatic solutions to the challenges we face. We have already achieved a lot. Let’s stay ambitious, and ensure that we pass a better place to live and work to those who come after us.”

the baltic sea

the baltic sea


A delegation consisting of representatives of government, businesses and ports of Belgium visited the stand of the Port of Paranaguá, in the 19th Intermodal South America, which takes place from Tuesday until this Thursday in Sao Paulo. The Deputy Prime Minister and also Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium, Didier Reynders, the ambassador to Brazil, Jozef Smets, and directors of the ports of Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Ghent.
the port of Ghent (Belgium)

the port of Ghent (Belgium)

“In December, we received the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium in Paranaguá and now in Intermodal, it confirms that the intention of a technical-operational agreement remains strong” said the superintendent of the Port Authority of Paranaguá and Antonina (APPA) Luiz Henrique Dividino, who received the delegation, with the Technical Director, Paulinho Dalmaz  and Administrative and Financial Roberto Carlos Frisoli.

“We have an extensive protocol of intentions with Belgium, which is one of the best countries in the world in port operations. The Port of Ghent, especially is very similar to ours. We can offer a lot to them and they to us, in terms of cooperation” , said M Frisoli.

According to the Belgian ambassador in Brazil, Jozef Smets, who has also been at the Port of Paranaguá, to invest in partnerships in the port sector is a goal of the Belgian government. “The Port of Ghent has much interest in developing this partnership with the Port of Paranaguá. I think the two ports only gain in development with that contact. As we can we embassy, ​​we will support”, said  the belgian diplomat.

INTERMODAL – One of the most important events of the country for the sectors of logistics, freight transportation and trade, Intermodal gathers 600 exhibitors and should receive more than 45000 people.