And what are the societal challenges that will mark the coming decades in Wallonia?
‘We have to deal with the dismantling of the industrial infrastructure. These are obsolete chemical factories from the metal industry. They have to be demolished, sites have to be cleaned. In addition, of course, we had that great flood here in August. We now have to do more than rebuild, we have to build back better, to quote US President Biden. That requires coordination of, among others things, the construction sectors, land use planning and economic support to the affected municipalities.’
What does Spiral do about it?
‘We do not hold a formal position as an advisor to parliament. But we are included. The parliament is currently organising a public consultation on energy and climate, we help to select citizens and engage them in a meaningful way. Recently, we collaborated on a policy report about what went wrong with the flood. A colleague spoke about it in the hearing. In addition, twice a year we organise sessions for local administrators, police, and fire fighters on how to act in crisis situations such as terrorist attacks, but also floods. A few years ago, we organised TA lunches for members of parliament from all major parties on, for example, the future of our food. Of course, we also teach and do scientific research.’
Wouldn't you have preferred to be an advisory institute like many other EPTA members?
‘It is a pity that we do not have a parliamentary institute here that deals with technology assessment. There are so many important issues for which we could provide parliamentarians with knowledge. Flanders had such an institute, but it was disbanded in 2011. Here, we had advanced plans to establish such an institute. At first, the issue was whether the institute should focus only on Wallonia or on the entire French-speaking community, the Federation Wallonia-Brussels. When the ministers concerned were in agreement and there was a parliamentary majority, elections were held and many supporters did not return. The plans have now been but on the back burner.’