The research programme “Science for a Sustainable Development” was launched in 2005 with a total research budget of 65,4 MEUR for the period 2005 – 2009.
The objectives of the SSD programme are:
- to preserve and develop the scientific potential in various strategically important areas, with the objective of reducing scientific uncertainties and anticipating future needs for knowledge;
- to offer the authorities of the country the scientific support required for the preparation, implementation, and follow-up of a supranational, federal, regional, or local policy in and between these areas;
- to offer the authorities of the country the scientific support required for the vertical (across policy levels) and horizontal policy integration (across policy domains) oriented towards a sustainable development;
- to offer the Belgian research potential in the areas involved the possibility of integrating itself into the various research initiatives at the European and international levels, in particular within the European Research Area.
- contribute to developing scientific knowledge and instruments (models, concepts, indicators, etc.) aiming to the analysis of processes, the study of impacts; the development, follow-up, and evaluation of (existing and/or future) policy measures.
- encourage interdisciplinary research so as to offer support to decision-making on the basis of an integration of different dimensions, perspectives, etc. of the issues concerned;
- promote dialogue and information exchange between scientists, decision-makers, and other involved actors at all levels of the country as well as in a European and international context.
The programme is composed of eight priority research domains. The entirety of the priority research domains was chosen because of the necessity to deal with the complex, global, interrelated problems which lie at the basis of a sustainable development policy. This choice responds to the strategic needs, on different levels of authority, for policy-supporting research and to the challenge to maintain and develop a national scientific expertise in complex and strategically important areas.
Within the above-mentioned priority research areas, the Programme encourages taking standardisation into account.
Calls for research proposals are issued among all Belgian university institutions, public scientific institutions and non-profit research centres likely to be in a position to present projects. Projects are selected on the grounds of a scientific assessment carried out by foreign experts in accordance with the "peer review" method.
Funding, management, coordination and development of the Programme are in the hands of the Belgian Science Policy.
Each research project, consisting of a network of funded partners, is enlarged with a follow-up committee. These non-funded partners in the project include relevant international, European, federal, and regional official bodies, scientific experts… They collaborate actively to the project by making data and information available and/or supply an advisory opinion regarding the ongoing research.
The Belgian researchers within the SSD programme have the possibility of cooperating with an international university or research institution within their project on the basis of a co-financing.