The CEESE was set up shortly after the first United Nation Conference on the human environment, held in Stockholm in 1972. It is made up of a multidisciplinary research team which devotes its activities to the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the interactions between the economy and the environment. The Centre has accordingly acquired a strong expertise in the following areas:
These studies meet two principal objectives. On the one hand they assist the decision-makers to work out environmental policies in a present or future economic and social context and, on the other hand, they contribute to fundamental research into the relations between the economic and environmental spheres. A large part of the researches carried out at the CEESE have taken place on the basis of networks (the European research 5th framework program, CEN/ISS, COST) or/and in partnership with other Belgian and European universities. The Centre for Economic and Social Studies on the Environment (CEESE - ULB) is and was involved in several research programmes at European (TRESHOLDS, SUBAT, ARTISTS, STAIRRS, COST, TACIS, Preparation of "ExternE" project, etc) and at federal and regional levels. Its director, Dr. Walter Hecq was co-ordinator for many of these projects, or parts of them, and is still active in this role.
For more than 30 years, the department ETEC of the VUB has been active in the field of innovative and environmentally friendly vehicle technologies, mainly concerning the characterising, testing and demonstration of electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles and their components such as electric drives and batteries.
Since the early 90's, simulation techniques have been developed to determine the dynamic behaviour (consumption, emissions) of thermal (gasoline, diesel, CNG, etc.) and electric (battery, hybrid, fuel cell) vehicles. A software tool, VSP was developed to design and assess these types of power trains of passenger cars as well as in two-wheelers or heavy duty applications. The innovative approach is especially dedicated to evaluate power management strategies in hybrid power trains.
Furthermore, traffic modelling techniques are combined with vehicle emission simulations, resulting in the EMITRAFFIC software package that combines VSP, TRIPS (CUBE) and COPERT software tools.
Important expertise has been developed in the field of the impact of driving behaviour on tailpipe emissions as well as the development of environmental rating systems of vehicles with different fuel types and drivetrains (well-to-wheel, LCA).
ETEC has a test infrastructure available for test, development and design of components and vehicles, consisting of a roller test bench, two mobile data acquisition systems allowing tests to be performed on a variety of vehicles, test bench for electric two wheelers, battery test station, laboratory test equipment for electric machines, electric drives and power electronics (installed power 800 kW, industrial test potential up to 300 kW).
ETEC is active in the field of standardisation (IEC TC69, ISO TC22 SC21, CEN TC301 en CENELEC TC69X). From 2005 the secretariat of the IEC technical committee No. 69: "Electric Road Vehicles And Electric Industrial Trucks" will be established at the VUB.
It is evident that up to now the focus of the research of ETEC was in the field of clean road vehicle technologies, traffic and emission models and environmental assessments. However this expertise can be used to develop a methodology useful for other transport modes like, aviation, rail and maritime transport and this with the aim to assess Climate policies.
The department MOSI of the VUB has recently been founded, with the merging of three departments working on statistics, mathematics and information systems.
The department includes all operational research activities that are relevant in human sciences.
The main research topics are multi-criteria analysis, system dynamics, location analysis, transport and logistics.
Prof. J.P. Brans has developed the PROMETHEE method, which is widely used and recognised as one of the most important multi criteria analysis approaches. Prof. C. Macharis has been extending this method towards a stakeholders approach and has used this method for the evaluation of strategic decisions in the field of transport.
The Institut d'Astronomie et de Géophysique Georges Lemaître (ASTR, see www.climate.be) belongs to the Physics Department of the Université catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve). Over the last 30 years, it has gained a worldwide reputation for the study of climate dynamics and mesoscale meteorology. Its present research activities deal with (1) climate variability in polar regions, (2) past climate changes, (3) human impacts on climate and vice-versa, (4) regional climate and atmospheric processes, (5) lakes and shallow seas, and (6) development of modelling tools. All this research is well integrated in Belgian, European and international research programmes. So far, ASTR scientists have authored or co-authored about 600 papers published in refereed journals or books.
ASTR is widely known for its contributions to the astronomical theory of paleoclimates. More specifically, it has computed the long-term insolation variations resulting from changes in the Earth's orbital parameters. These values are still employed in numerous laboratories involved in the reconstruction of past climates. ASTR has also developed a hierarchy of Earth system models, one of them being utilized worldwide. These models are currently run to investigate the dynamics of climate during glacial and interglacial times, past abrupt climate changes, the decadal-to-centennial climate variability in polar regions and the evolution of climate over the last, present and next few millennia in response to natural and anthropogenic forcings. ASTR has also a great deal of expertise in atmospheric mesoscale modelling.
ASTR has also a long experience in collaborating in an interdisciplinary framework. Over the last fifteen years, several members of ASTR have made particular efforts to enter in dialogue with scientists from economy and social sciences, and with decision makers. This is reflected by a number of projects and papers associating ASTR and institutions (including CORE and the KULeuven) and scientists from economy and social sciences (e.g., demography). A continuing effort has also been made to translate the latest results of climate studies in terms that are palatable for decision-makers. This has been done, in part, under the auspices of the Federal Council for Sustainable Development, in which J.P. van Ypersele chairs the "Energy and Climate" Working Group (see : www.cfdd.be). He has also participated as science adviser in several of the international meetings associated with the work of IPCC and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. J.P. van Ypersele has been elected a member of the Bureau of IPCC in 2002, which gives him a good overall view of the state of knowledge.