To reach its ambitious climate and environmental goals set by the Green Deal, the European Union (EU) is counting on industry to step up its game. Businesses are expected to comply with the strict environmental regulations by placing sustainability at their core – with the support of a mighty budget dedicated by the EU to this purpose.
What does this mean for the business community in Belgium?
Industry will be one of the main actors in the green transition and must act immediately. To capitalize on this shift, companies must integrate sustainability at the core of their business models.
The EU plans to pass key legislation to reshape notably the energy and transport sectors in the next eight years, putting an imperative on the companies active in these sectors to innovate or risk potential failure. The EU plans include the EU Industrial Strategy (April 2021) and the 'Fit for 5' package (June 2021), aiming to update the EU’s 2030 climate and energy laws to reflect the 55% net emissions reduction target for 2030.
To support this transition, the largest EU budget in history will be available, amounting to €1.8 trillion. The massive €750 billion recovery plan included in the budget will drive investments towards green technologies. Through programs such as InvestEU and Horizon Europe, the EU will support businesses developing innovative and green technologies, thus giving them a competitive advantage in a future European green economy.
Belgium provides a complex but competitive environment for green growth
The development of a green industry is also at the core of Belgium’s strategy to develop a green and sustainable economy. With environmental and economic policies being regionalized, Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels will have three distinct plans pushing their sustainable transition, with the Federal Government playing a coordinating role. Belgium therefore provides diversified initiatives and opportunities, promoting sustainability and innovation in different sectors, across each region:
- In Flanders, a close collaboration between industry, academia and the government spurs green innovation and sustainable growth. The Flemish Government adopted its Vision 2050 plan as a strategy for their sustainable transition, aiming to develop a circular and sustainable economy producing zero waste by 2050. To do so, the region will implement its ‘Industry 4.0’ framework to develop clean technologies for keeping its industry competitive.
- In Wallonia, the creation of strategic industrial clusters is at the core of the sustainable strategy, concentrating innovative excellence and fostering green growth. The government updated its ‘Climate Energy’ plan aimed at reducing CO2 emissions and developing a greener economy to integrate the Green Deal’s targets. To reach them, green technologies will be promoted within existing clusters and new strategic clusters will be developed.
- The Brussels region, as a major urban center, will support innovation for the development of a leading smart and sustainable city. In its 2021-2030 Environmental Plan, the Brussels Government is focusing on two aspects of the green transition: building renovation, as buildings are the main source of emissions, and the ‘smart transformation’ of key sectors, by promoting energy efficiency, sustainable chemistry, a circular economy and mobility.
Businesses in Belgium must seize this opportunity to start their sustainable transition
It is essential for businesses to immediately initiate their green transition at their core and develop innovative business models. To capitalize on this transition, they will need to adapt their strategies and narratives around the following guidelines:
- Understanding and integrating the EU’s push for green technologies and implementing transformative business models to thrive in a European green economy;
- Navigating and understanding the complexity of the different policy portfolios being shared between the Federal Government and the regions and interacting efficiently with relevant stakeholders;
- Developing an integrated strategic communication and public affairs strategy at regional, national and European level, to interact efficiently with the right stakeholders.
About the author
Sarah is a public affairs and corporate communications expert with a background in European politics, advocacy and integrated communication. At Weber Shandwick, she works on public and corporate affairs for Deliveroo, Ericsson, Novartis, Novartis Gene Therapies, the Port of Antwerp and VLAM, among others.