The European Parliament witnessed the signing of a Strategic Partnership Agreement between the Belgian Federal Ministry for Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment and IUCN Regional Office for Pan-Europe upon the occasion of the
co-organized by Countdown 2010 and the
Cooperation between IUCN and the Belgian Government goes back in the days when Belgium was among the founding members of the organization and the first IUCN Headquarters office was in Brussels. Also, Mr. Jean-Paul Harroy, the first Secretary General of the "International Union for the Protection of Nature" – as it was called at the time – was Belgian.
Sixty years later, the Belgian Government and IUCN come back together to strengthen once more their relationship. The Strategic Partnership Agreement covers a period of four years and envisages enhanced cooperation in several fields of activity, such as:
- Establishing a programme that develops and implements activities which contribute to the main international policy processes on biodiversity and thus supporting the definition of a post-2010 target;
- Supporting the activities of IUCN Regional Office for Pan- Europe and its Countdown 2010 initiative;
- Cooperating with the IUCN Protected Areas Programme and the World Heritage Convention on marine and forest issues;
- Supporting TEMATEA as a means to contribute to the 2010 target, and;
- Supporting the establishment of a Belgian Business and Biodiversity platform.
Tamas Marghescu, IUCN Regional Director for Pan-Europe, noted that "the newly-signed partnership is particularly significant since Belgium will hold the Presidency of the European Council in the second half of 2010". Close cooperation will seek to ensure that the adoption of a new post-2010 target on biodiversity – which will probably be accomplished at the meeting of Heads of State in New York in September 2010 – will be kept high on the EU Presidency agenda.