Environmental issues were one facet of the studies and debates about the expansion of the power generation systems (1970-80s). In the 1980s many studies were balancing large scale coal power plants against large-scale atomic power plants. Both options were loaded with long-term risks, huge uncertainties, but the aspect of ignorance (deep uncertainty) was not strong in the public arena. The precautionary principle was nascent but not widely accepted.
More specific environmental studies covered issues as waste-to-energy, waste management, and policies regarding waste prevention (making the link with energy efficiency studies). Several of my collaborators analysed in high detail almost all industrial sectors with significant waste flows and charted the opportunities of preventing, reducing, re-using and recycling waste flows.
In 1989 the Flemish minister for the Environment asked me to write a blueprint for the development of the environmental policy planning process in the region. This blueprint was the basis of the lawgiving (1995) and the organisation of the administration.
In 1991 I was appointed the first president of the formal Environmental Council in Flanders (MiNa-raad). The council and its secreteriat had to be started up during a period (1988-1992) that many new initiatives were taken by the regional government.
But my major project (1993-1998) in the environmental area started with the conception, design, project leadership and edition of the state-of-the-environment reporting and reports in Flanders (MIRA). The reporting was structured in the DPSI@R format, and the chapter reports prepared by tens of scientists were submitted to a strict quality control.
During the same period I also designed the basic structure of the Flemish Energy Information System, that was realized as the Flemish Energy and Environment Information System (acronym EMIS; see www.emis.be ).
In 1997-98 I co-ordinated the OECD Environmental Performance Review of Belgium.
During 1999-2001 my scientific career was interrupted by a two-year position as principal advisor to the minister of the environment of Flanders. During that period I worked on environmental taxes and mainly on a strategic re-orientation of the water sanitation investments and operations. The strategy on a transparent taxing policy was largely rejected, but the strategy on the water santitation sector was largely implemented after I left office. My position in Flemish-Belgian politics was such that continuing would have harmed most of my personal values. Since that experience I stopped to work for disfunctional political and administrative systems. My focus is almost exclusively on scientific work in an international context.