The FPB’s studies cover 11 main themes: Energy, Environmental economic accounts and analyses, International economy, Labour market, Macroeconomic forecasts and analyses, Public finances, Sectoral accounts and analyses, Social protection, demography and prospective studies, Structural studies, Sustainable development, Transport.
In the federal reports on sustainable development, the FPB describes the existing situation in the field of sustainable development in Belgium and in the rest of the world. Two models and several indicators are used to describe and organize the information. As new publications are issued, improvements are made to set out the information clearly and appropriately as far as issues of sustainable development are concerned.
TransAccount is an accounting model developed to elaborate sustainable development scenarios, in particular the energy and climate sparts. It was used for the SET-Consumption and SET-Production scenarios of the 2015 Federal report on sustainable development. TransAccount calculates for each individual scenario the energy consumption and the greenhouse gas emissions of all activities (individual, industrial and public authorities') on the Belgian territory. TransAccount was designed to be used in a backcasting approach. In such an approach, a scenario presupposes a wanted future, for instance defined in a long-term vision on sustainable development. This vision contains a set of objectives, in particular the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The detailed assumptions on used technologies (energy intensity, emission factors) and lifestyles reflect, in a concrete manner and in each scenario, their main orientations (level of globalisation, progress of knowledge, level of education, demographic structure, key roles of consumers and producers) and should allow attaining the sustainable development objectives in 2050. Subsequently, TransAccount calculates the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for 2050 based on those assumptions. The model then makes possible to calculate a pathway from the current situation to the situation in 2050.
In the Federal reports on sustainable development, the FPB is to describe the existing situation of sustainable development in Belgium and in the world. To present and organise that information, it uses both indicators and a model. In the consecutive publications, improvements are made in order to report the information in a format which is both adapted to the issues of sustainable development and sound from a pedagogical perspective.
DPSIR-model. From the beginning of the work, the DPSIR-model has been used to present the indicators (see part 2 of Op weg naar duurzame ontwikkeling?/ Sur la voie d'un développement durable?, 1st Federal report on sustainable development, 1999). The letters DPSIR stand for the words drive, pressure, situation, impact and response. Both the international and the Belgian existing situations are described using 80 indicators and a large number of additional quantitative information.
TransGovern model. The TransGovern model is a new step in the improvement of the organisation of the economic, social, environmental and policy information. The model links the transformations of a society's living conditions to the public policy. In addition, it elucidates the relationships between the determinants of living conditions and the relationships between policy components (see part 1 of Ontwikkeling begrijpen en sturen/ Comprendre et gouverner le développement, 3rd Federal report on sustainable development, 2005). Transgovern is a new combination of several existing models:
The website www.indicators.be presents a set of 75 sustainable development indicators, 25 of which are key indicators. The indicators inform on various social, environmental, economic and institutional issues which determine the society's development. The set is the result of over 10 years of reporting on sustainable development and offers useful information to help policy makers determine and follow up policy. Depending on their availability, the website shows data from 1992, the year of the United Nations Conference on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro. Most of the indicators on the website are updated every year. On a regular basis, the website publishes an overview of the evaluation results for all indicators (2009) or for the key indicators only (annually since 2011).
The indicators are organized according to a systemic model linking the driving forces (demographics, production and consumption) to the pressure on human, environmental and economic capital, the situation of those capitals and government policy (see the TransGovern model).
They are also structured according to 16 themes which represent the main challenges for sustainable development:
1. demographic changes,
2. consumption and production patterns,
7. education and skills,
8. research and development,
9. public health,
10. social inclusion,
11. climate change,
12. natural resources,
13. biological diversity,
14. public administration,
15. economic governance and
16. global partnership.