In July 2021, a draft resolution was submitted to the Belgian Parliament to include ecocide in the Belgian Criminal Code, thereby recognizing ecocide as a crime in Belgian criminal law. But in December 2021, Belgian MP, Samuel Cogolati, tabled a law proposal to introduce the concept. In May 2022, the Belgian Expert Commission advised to include ecocide in the revision of the Penal Code. The definition they proposed is: “deliberately committing an unlawful act causing serious, widespread and long-term damage to the environment knowing that such acts cause such damage.” In November 2022, the Belgian government formally proposed its inclusion, a move championed by Zakia Khattabi, the Minister of Environment.
On July 20, 2023, the new crime of ecocide was officially included in the new draft penal code. Parliamentary approval is required for it to become law. Pending approval by Parliament later this year, the development makes Belgium set to become the twelfth country to add the crime to its statute books. As the crime of ecocide is considered a serious crime, it will be at level six in the new penalty scale (which has eight levels) which is equivalent to imprisonment of 10 to 20 years.
A coalition of more than 20 climate and environmental organizations have long argued for the recognition of ecocide as a crime in Belgium, including Stop Ecocide Belgium, Greenpeace Belgium, Canopea, Rise for Climate, Youth for Climate, Climate Justice for Rosa, the Climate Coalition, the European Foundation for the right of the living, Extinction Rebellion and Grandparents for Climate.