From September 1996 to April 2004, the follow-up of the negotiation and implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was coordinated at Belgian level by the Service Biosafety and Biotechnology (SBB). A network of representatives from the relevant competent authorities and administrations was established by the SBB for that purpose in the framework of the CCIEP (Coordination Committee for the International Environmental Politics).
The SBB was also mandated by the CCIEP to ensure the coordination of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union between 1 July and 31 December 2001, a period during which the second meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP) took place.
Last but not least, the SBB was designated as Belgian Focal point for the Intergovernmental Committee of the Cartagena Protocol (ICCP).
Since Belgium ratified the Protocol, the DG Environment of the Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment has been designated as National Focal Point for the Protocol.
Within the framework of this mission, the DG Environment coordinates the opinions of experts who will serve as a basis to define the Belgian positions taken in international fora. It takes part directly in the implementation of the Protocol, for example by transposing or by adapting in Belgian law certain aspects of the text or of the European legislations which result from it. Its role is also to inform the Belgian authorities and operators about their various obligations and to take care that these responsibilities are implemented correctly.
The SBB has been appointed as National Focal Point for the BCH.
The SBB is active since 1996 in the development and management of Internet-based systems for information sharing in the field of biosafety (see in particular the Belgian Biosafety Server). Based on this expertise, the SBB established in June 2001, after consultation with and agreement of the relevant competent authorities, the Belgian Biosafety Clearing-House. This was done in response to the recommendation of the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (ICCP-1) which "encouraged Governments with national databases to facilitate the establishment of linkages to the Biosafety Clearing-House".
It should be noted also that the SBB has participated in the group of technical experts on the Biosafety Clearing-House, established by the CBD Secretariat to provide advice on technical issues associated with the implementation of the pilot phase of the Biosafety Clearing-House (see http://www.biodiv.org/bch/history.asp for further details).