From 30 November to 12 December, Dubai will host COP28, the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The 170 members of the Belgian delegation will work together to realise Belgium’s desire for a just and inclusive transition, with the active participation of public and private stakeholders.
COP28 will focus on the political conclusion of the first Global Stocktake, a key component of the Paris Agreement on climate change that will be used to monitor its implementation and assess collective progress towards the agreed goals. This is vital, as a new UN report highlights the modest progress made since the agreement was signed in 2015.
To communicate and negotiate its views, Belgium can count on a delegation of around 170 people, more than Flemish Environment minister Zuhal Demir had in mind.
“A climate puppet show contributes little to the fight against climate change,” she said in October. “If politics wants to keep its credibility with the people, it shouldn’t participate in these puppet shows and should focus on the core issue: achievements on the ground.”
Yet unlike at COP27, where there were 120 Belgians, Belgium will now be even more strongly represented with 170 people.
World Climate Action Summit
As usual, the multi-day climate negotiations are attracting many politicians. Prime minister Alexander De Croo will represent Belgium at the two-day opening event, the World Climate Action Summit, which many heads of state and government will attend.
The second week see the ministerial segment, where the Belgian delegation will be led by the minister of Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal, Zakia Khattabi. The Brussels minister for Climate Change, Environment, Energy and Participatory Democracy, Alain Maron, who represents Belgium in the EU, will lead the delegation during the European coordination meetings.
Team of experts
Negotiations prior to the ministerial segment will be monitored by a core team of experts from the federal administration and some regional counterparts, totalling about 25 people. Among them are 12 experts from the Climate Change Service of the Federal Public Health Service.
Many of these have participated in numerous COPs and some have been coordinating European positions on key issues for years. This core team will have to coordinate and promote not only Belgian but also European positions in the first half of 2024, when Belgium holds the EU presidency, in preparation for COP29.
In addition to this negotiating team, another 15 representatives of federal and regional administrations are liaising with their respective authorities or in connection with numerous thematic events organised on the sidelines of the negotiations, as well as bilateral contacts and plurilateral initiatives launched during the COP.
Other ministers in the delegation include Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten, Development Cooperation minister Caroline Gennez and Walloon vice-minister president and minister for Climate, Energy, Mobility and Infrastructure Philippe Henry. The Chamber of Representatives and the Flemish Parliament will each send three MPs.
Ambitious climate policy
The Belgian delegation will also include around five people from international institutions such as the OECD and the Benelux countries. The Belgian Ambassador to the UAE and 20 representatives from other federal and regional government institutions, including Flanders Investment & Trade, AWEX, Hub Brussels and VITO will also attend.
On top of that, some 50 delegates from Belgian or Belgium-based companies want to position themselves in the climate and energy transition, including the Port of Antwerp and dredging company Jan De Nul. This shows that Belgium, despite being a small dot on the world map, is ready to join forces with the other participating countries in supporting an ambitious climate policy.