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Belgium - Flanders Region - Nature Report

Aarhus Convention Task Force on Access to Information / EIT Case Study

I. Description 

1. Brief description: In the Nature Report 2023, INBO, together with policymakers and experts, examines whether Flemish policy is ready to implement the European Green Deal and its Biodiversity Strategy. What barriers stand in the way of reaching the goals? And through which solution pathways can we overcome these barriers? We address four major challenges facing Flanders and identify seven overarching solution pathways. 

The report specifically focuses on: 

  • Limit damage from drought and flooding 
  • Mitigate climate change 
  • Create a well-connected nature network 
  • Improve urban life through nature based solutions 


  • 2. Type: Report, Flanders regional authority 
  • 3. Scope: Sub-regional, local 
  • 4. Working language(s): Dutch, English version (in progress) 
  • 5. Target users: General public, regional and local communities, NGO’s 
  • 6. Starting year: 2021 
  • 7. Budget and funding source​: Over two years → 11,5 FTE, ​70K EURO for process support and communication, Flemish government (INBO) 
  • 8. Contact:  

Helen Michels - Senior researcher / Coordinator Nature report 2023 

Flemish Authority, Research Institute for Nature and Forest Helen.michels[@] 0486 30 92 47 

II. Implementation 

  • 9. Policy, legal and institutional context: According to the Flemish legislation (The Nature Decree) the Research Institute for Nature and Forest is mandated to report on a regular basis on the state of nature in Flanders and the policies involved. The Nature Report 2023 was presented to the Minister of Environment on 18th of September 2023.  
  • 10. Partner organizations involved: Broad range of stakeholders in Flanders 
  • 11. Stakeholders involved, their expected benefits: Various governmental organizations, politicians, scientific world (Belgium and the Netherlands), NGO's, local communities (provinces, cities and municipalities) 
  • 12. User needs and methods of their assessment: Info-sessions, workshops 
  • 13. Technology choice: Online report 

III. Evaluation 

  • 14. Results: Report (Dutch version, English summary in progress), 4 technical reports, 4 podcasts, 18 video fragments 
  • 15. Efficiency gains: The chapters of the main report were written directly by the authors of the background reports, instead of the copywriters summarizing the background reports. The copywriting and the layout was done by the same company.  
  • 16. Risks: Some of the recommendations can be taken out of context on social media.  
  • 17. Challenges encountered (please indicate resolved or not) 
  • Throughout the process we encountered capacity issues: resolved 
  • Data analysis was mainly based on in depth interviews. Some readers who weren’t familiar with the qualitative methods considered it as a compilation of opinions rather than the result of scientific analysis.  
  • We dealt with a very broad range of topics, which was necessary for a systemic approach, but made it difficult to analyze the sectoral policies in depth.  
  • 18. Lessons learned 

A policy evaluation just based on figures doesn’t allow to surface the hidden barriers and solution pathways. Quantitative research methods should be complemented by qualitative methods (e.g. depth interviews). On the other hand, a lack of quantitative analysis does make the policy evaluation vulnerable to comments about the scientificity of the approach.    

19. Conditions for successful replication: Given the fact that the participatory process was an essential part of the end product, unique to time, product and participants, it can’t be exactly replicated. Careful and transparent documentation of the process, methods and data ensure that the research is reproducible and that the results are verifiable. 

  • 20. Overall assessment of the tool: The Nature Report 2023 was the topic of discussion at the commission of environment in the Flemish government. Given that one of the goals was to inspire and support the debate on transformative change, we can conclude that this goal was somewhat achieved. It is too soon however to tell whether or not the ideas have been picked up by policymakers. 


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