SSD is the continuation of the first and second Scientific Support Plans for a Sustainable Development Policy (SPSD I [1996-2001] and SPSD II [2000-2005]).
SSD was approved by the Council of Ministers in March 2005 and covers a wide range of scientific research (not only transport). Compared to SPSD I and II, the programme integrates new themes, namely "Health and Environment" and "Standardisation".
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 SSD programme is composed of eight priority research areas:
- Transport and mobility,
- Health and environment,
- Climate (including Antarctica),
- Biodiversity (including Antarctica and the North Sea),
- Atmosphere and terrestrial and marine ecosystems (including Antarctica and the North Sea)
- Transversal Research.
Of these, the "transport and mobility" domain is directly relevant to transport research, while the domains "health and environment" and "energy" each contain one project with transport relevance.
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.
The Belgian researchers within the SSD programme may cooperate with an international university or research institution within their project on co-funded basis.