Belgian Antarctic Program

Photo: Belgian Federal Science Policy and Polar Secretariat

About Belgium’s National Antarctic Program

COMNAP Representative (MNAP): Xavier Lepoivre, Acting Director, Belgian Polar Secretariat

The Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO) and the Polar Secretariat are the governmental bodies responsible for leading and managing the Belgian Antarctic Program.

The Belgian Antarctic Research Program is funded, coordinated and managed by the Federal Science Policy Office since 1985. BELSPO finances and manages multiyear research projects at the station and also performs at other logistic facilities owned by international partners. Emphasis is given on international collaboration and a multi-disciplinary approach.

The Belgian Polar Secretariat is the public structure in charge of all aspects of the Princess Elisabeth Station in Antarctica. It ensures the Station’s financial, administrative and material management and the involvement of potential partners to achieve its goals: the logistic support and promotion of scientific activities at the station. The Polar Secretariat is also responsible for the coordination and implementation of the BELARE (Belgian Antarctic Research Expedition) campaigns.

The Princess Elisabeth Station is a summer station erected on the Utsteinen Ridge (71°57’S; 023°21’E), situated at the foot of the Sør Rondane Mountains, Dronning Maud Land. It replaces the former Belgian King Baudouin base, built in 1958 at the Dronning Maud Land coast, and closed in 1967. The station is positioned halfway between the Japanese Syowa Station (684 km) and the Russian Novolazarevskaya Station (431 km).

In designing and building the Princess Elisabeth Station, the objective was to use and integrate sustainable and energy saving technologies. The shape of the station is the result of aerodynamic and energy efficiency studies, where form follows function.​

About the Organizational Structure of the Belgian Antarctic Research Program

BELSPO and the Polar Secretariat are located in Brussels, under the Ministry for Science Policy. They work closely together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Defence for the follow-up of matters related to the Antarctic Treaty System and the execution of the BELARE campaigns at the Station.​

Our Science Program

The broad objectives of the Belgian Antarctic Programme are:

  • Maintain and strengthen Belgian expertise, particularly in those areas of science where Belgian teams are known to be strong;
  • To provide the scientific support necessary for the development of a Belgian position within Antarctic fora for policy development;
  • Contribute to the rational management of Antarctica’s environment and natural resources;
  • Assess the consequences at the world scale of major natural processes occurring in the Antarctic and surrounding ocean.

Calls for research proposals are issued among all Belgian universities, public scientific institutions and non-profit research centres. Projects are selected through a competitive peer review process in which international experts evaluate the scientific project quality. The project funding provided by BELSPO encompasses money for salaries, functioning, equipment, subcontracting, campaigns and the integration of international research partners in the project.

Research topics and priorities are in full line with European and international research agendas and include climate and atmosphere, biodiversity, geology and geophysics, astrophysics, human biology and medical research and data management.

By participating in a collaborative way in scientific campaigns organised by other countries, important and sustainable research collaborations have been established with international partners. These collaborations are continued in the scientific work at the station.

Our Contact Details

Postal/Physical Address
Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO)
Avenue Louise 231 Louizalaan
B-1050 Brussels

Tel: +32 (0)2 238 36 78

Postal/Physical Address
Belgian Polar Secretariat
Avenue Louise 231 Louizalaan
B-1050 Brussels

Tel: +32 (0)2 238 35 74