In March 2009, the Government of Québec and the Brussels-Capital Region signed a cooperation program in the area of contaminated land rehabilitation.
The cooperation program emphasizes exchanges of expertise between the Brussels-Capital Region and large cities in Québec, which share an industrial past and a legacy of soil pollution. The first activity held under the new cooperative framework consisted in the participation of a delegation of experts from Brussels in Americana, an international environmental trade show held in Montréal in March.
The second cooperation-framework activity took place in December, in the form of a mission to Brussels by experts from Québec. Michel Beaulieu, a scientific adviser with the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP), is in charge of the cooperation program in Québec. He was accompanied by Diane Bouchard, environmental adviser with the City of Québec, and her City of Montréal counterpart, Josée Samson.
The three members of the Québec delegation wanted to find out more about good environmental practices applied in the Brussels-Capital Region.
They were welcomed by Jean-Pierre Janssen, Head of the Environmental and Soil Policy Division at the Brussels Institute for Management of the Environment (IBGE), who is in charge of the cooperation program in Brussels. He gave the Québec delegation an overview of Belgian practices and explained the situation in Brussels. He also called on experts from two other regions, employed by OVAM, the public corporation that looks after waste in the Flemish Region, and by the Walloon waste office.
Rehabilitating polluted soil involves reusing land and compulsory measurements aimed at protecting the environment and future users. Contaminated soil is more than just an environmental issue: solving the problem requires close collaboration between stakeholders in a variety of sectors.
In order to identify winning solutions, it is important to study different approaches and share best practices.
According to the prestigious magazine The Economist, Brussels is one of the world’s ten greenest cities, and number 5 (out of 30) in terms of CO2 emissions per capita. Québec has the best per-capita figure in Canada. As both partners share the key value of respect for the environment, their cooperation in the area of land rehabilitation promises to generate highly positive results.