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Bond Beter Leefmilieu, the Flemish umbrella organisation for the environment

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Mission statement

The Bond Beter Leefmilieu (Federation for a Better Environment) is the pluralistic and independent federation of more than 140 national and local associations involved in nature and the environment in Flanders, Belgium. Working from civil society, we are committed to an affluent nature and a diverse landscape, a green and healthy living environment in both countryside and city, and production and consumption patterns with consideration for the capacity of our earth. BBL works from the following vision to sustainable development: fair distribution of prosperity and environmental usage space, in Flanders and elsewhere, now and in the future. Our operation is directed at supporting and assisting our associations, at influencing policies of government and societal organisations, and at sustaining behaviour of the broad public and target groups.

BBL is a civil society organisation

The Bond Beter Leefmilieu Flanders is active in the Flemish civil society. Civil society organisations fulfil three important social tasks: They bring people together and thus contribute to social involvement and civil cohesion; that is their civil mission. Civil society organisations provide people with an informed opinion and allow citizens to have a say in policies; that is their democratic mission. They also give citizens practical influence on policies and want to inspire those policies, and render them effective and efficient; that is their political mission.

140 member associations with 350,000 members in Flanders

The not-for-profit Bond Beter Leefmilieu Flanders was founded in 1971 and is the umbrella organisation for more than 140 nature associations and environmental organisations in Flanders: from Greenpeace and WWF Flanders, via Nature Point (Natuurpunt) to dozens of regional and local associations. The associations can count on the support of more than 350,000 members. The nature and environmental movement is a rapidly growing sector in terms of members and professionals as well as available resources.


Partners

The Bond Beter Leefmilieu cooperates with the other three regional environmental federations:
  • The Brussels Council for the Environment
  • Inter-Environment Wallonia
  • Inter-Environment Brussels
and is active in the European environmental umbrella organisation Please refer to the BBL “membership list” for more information about these organisations.


The three fields of activity of BBL


The BBL operation covers three different fields of activity: to support and assist our member associations, to influence governmental and business policies and to sustain the behaviour of the broad public and target groups.

1. To support and assist our associations through our umbrella service:
  • To assist our member associations on ‘fundamental’ issues
  • Reinforcement of the ‘movement function’ of our member associations
  • To strengthen the ‘employer’s role’ of our member associations
  • To broaden the ‘financial basis’ of our member associations
  • To ensure that our member associations comply with their ‘legal obligations’
  • To work towards a higher quality working level within our member associations

2. To influence the policies of governments and civil organisations through our policy-operation

  • To work on a broad substantial terrain and to be active at various levels
  • To choose for influencing policies, consultation and advice
  • Formation of coalitions to achieve our goals
  • Set up judicial actions to enforce implementation of the law
  • Contact with the media to be able to influence the social and political debate

3. To sustain the behaviour of the broad public and target groups through projects and campaigns

  • We strive for change of behaviour and attitude among political and population groups
  • Constantly focus on concrete changes
  • Work with intermediary partners

Our predominant themes


Climate and energy
Our climate is changing; there is no doubt about that anymore. The main cause is the exaggerated use of fossil fuels. Putting a halt to the climate change is one of our society’s biggest challenges. The good news is that we avail of all the necessary means to accept that challenge. The Bond Beter Leefmilieu argues for an energy policy focusing on energy saving, sustainable energy and decentralised energy production.
Campaigns:

    • Energy neighbourhoods
    • BouwWiki (BuildWiki)

Spatial Planning
Many problems relating to nature, environment and quality of life are in part caused by the chaotic spatial planning and arrangement of Flanders. Flanders has the highest level of fragmentation of the entire European Union. Consequences thereof include the harrowing shortage of nature and forest areas, the continuous absorption of open space for new allotments and industrial areas and the explosive growth of traffic as a result of the urbanisation of the countryside. The Bond Beter Leefmilieu argues for sensible use of open space to minimize the environmental impact from living, shopping, working and recreation.
Campaigns:
    • Open Space Breathing Space

Mobility
The Bond Beter Leefmilieu wants a safe and comfortable travelling environment for everyone, but such mobility has to be sustainable. That can be accomplished by saving sensibly, by encouraging technological innovations and by giving the environment and health the same weight as economic growth. The Bond Beter Leefmilieu is searching for answers to the question which kind of traffic development, and which effects thereof (quality of life, health, space) we consider acceptable and affordable today.

Campaigns:
    • ‘I Kyoto'
    • Cycle to the Shop

Production and consumption
A focus on sustainable production and consumption can save society a lot of money, materials and pollution. Therefore, the Bond Beter Leefmilieu will start a dialogue with the industrial sectors, in order to limit their impact on the environment. In addition, we are organising campaigns to make the consumer’s choice for sustainable products with minimal waste production, as easy as possible.

Campaigns:
    • Milieukoopwijzer.be (buy smart for the environment)
    • BouwWiki (BuildWiki)


Water
Water is a natural and economic source of wealth. The Bond Beter Leefmilieu argues for assurance of good water quality (pure water for man and nature) and for avoidance of floods and droughts.
Campaigns:
    • Big Jump

Air
So bad is the quality of the air in many places in Flanders that health effects are becoming alarming. Air pollution is the main source of illnesses resulting from environmental pollution. “Inadmissible”, says the Bond Beter Leefmilieu. We fight for pure air that is healthy to breathe.

Agriculture
The mechanisation, specialisation and intensification of our agriculture have led to huge environmental problems and the loss of biodiversity. The soilless livestock industry causes topdressing and environmental acidification. In consultation with farmers and politicians, the Bond Beter Leefmilieu is searching for sustainable agriculture.

The internal operational structure

BBL’s internal operational structure is formed by its a secretariat, consisting of three sub operations, each led by a coordinator:

  1. Umbrella operation: Support directed at the movement and support/management consolidation of the member associations. This operation is led by a director and a business coordinator
  2. Policy operation, led by the policy coordinator
  3. Project and campaign operation, led by the project coordinator
Together with the manager, the three coordinators form the management committee. In addition, there are supporting services, i.e. bookkeeping, finances, IT, communication and sponsoring and fundraising. The secretariat employs about 45 professionals. 

The Board of BBL

The General Assembly determines the broad operation framework of the Bond Beter Leefmilieu, as well as the annual planning, the budget and the admission of new members. It decides on the annual and the financial report and establishes the general course of the environmental umbrella organisation. The Assembly supervises and encourages the members of the Management Board and elects its members.
The Management Board works out the plans drawn up by the General Assembly and translates them into strategic and operational goals. The Board also supervises and encourages the day-to-day management of the association, structured in the Organ of Representation.
The operation of the Management Board and all the sub-operations of the secretariat are supported by a number of Committees and Advisory Councils

Annual sustainability report

The Bond Beter Leefmilieu publishes an annual sustainability report according to the international GRI-standards. GRI is a reporting system that allows for a comparative method to disclose the economical, ecological and social performance of an organisation. GRI has become a world standard for reporting sustainability.
According to these standards, a report shall contain the following information: at least 28 clearly described aspects of the organisation’s profile, and a minimum of 10 performance indicators, covering at least one from each of the following categories: economic performance indicators, ecological performance indicators and social performance indicators.
Involvement of the stakeholders is an important principle of the GRI. During the composition of our sustainability report it appeared that BBL often involve their stakeholders, however neither systematically nor well-considered at all times. That is an important challenge for the future.
BBL employed 35 people in 2007; our CO2 exhaust was less than 100 tonnes and we used less than 200,000 litres of water. Hence BBL’s direct impact on people and planet is by no means comparable to that of other large companies. The surplus value of a non-governmental organisation is embedded in its influence on society: adjusting policies, behavioural changes, etc. We are working to integrate this dimension into the GRI.

Our finances

The Bond Beter Leefmilieu is a Flemish not-for-profit organisation. We realise an average annual turnover of three million Euros. Our income originates from subsidies (municipal, provincial, Flemish, federal and European governments), contributions from our member organisations, donors, sponsoring and paid services rendered to third parties. Our expenses include support to our member organisations, influencing government policies and social organisations and the setup of countless campaigns.
The Bond Beter Leefmilieu is a large not-for-profit organisation. Thus in accordance with the “Not-for-Profit organisations Act” (Wet op de vzw) we deposit our annual accounts with the Central Balance Sheet Office of the National Bank of Belgium. During the 90s, the annual accounts of BBL were checked by an independent auditor. Over the period 2008-2010, this assignment is carried out by company auditor Ernst&Young Bedrijfsrevisoren (Company Auditors).

Interest from the Media

BBL’s press activities are aimed at proclaiming and enhancing its policy position for the sake of influencing the public opinion, determining policy items and influencing the government and business policies, as well as creating a broad support for environmental rules. 

Description of activities:

  • BBL press activities are a focal point. Even more than in previous years, the climate and energy problems got the attention of the press both in local and international news. BBL has become an authority in the field of climate, water and waste. The BBL campaigns prove to be successful, especially in the regional press.
  • The media databank Mediargus recorded 1,034 “hits” for The Bond Beter Leefmilieu in 2008, although it must be said that this figure doesn’t prove much more than BBL’s daily presence on national TV, radio, printed press and the internet.
  • A study conducted by the Catholic University Leuven showed that journalists and opinion leaders consider BBL to be a credible and trustworthy partner. Communication was said to be one of the determining factors.

Publications

BBL mainly communicates through the internet. Every day, the main website communicates environmental news and analysis. Visitors have the opportunity to respond to articles and give their opinion. The content is segmented through digital magazines. On a weekly basis, there's news about the environment and environmental policies in Flanders for professionals (Policy chat), but we also publish a positive sign board of the environmental movement (Environment chat). The volunteers within the environmental movement have their own newsletter (the Basic chat). Our campaigns, too, mainly run digitally. But we still publish magazines and folders in print, if so required for the target group. For example: in 2008 we had 30,000 copies printed of the four-colour magazine about Open Climate Houses (among others as a supplement to the monthly "Beter bouwen & verbouwen” (Better building & renovating)). The campaign eventually scored 2,000 home visits.

Address:

The Bond Beter Leefmilieu
Tweekerkenstraat 47
B-1000 Brussel
Belgium
www.bondbeterleefmilieu.be
VAT no. 416.114.756
Account no. 001-1475409-18