AquaConSoil, the largest European conference about sustainable use and management of soil and water soils is coming to Flanders! From 20 to 24th May 2019 the city of Antwerp, VITO’s Flemish Water Knowledge Centre (VLAKWA), and the Flemish soil remediation sector will receive about 800 soil experts from over the whole world in the Flanders Meeting and Convention Center Antwerp (FMCCA).

Thanks to an ambitious soil remediation policy, Flanders has achieved a leading position in the treatment of soil pollution. Parallel to this policy, a strong private soil sector has developed in Flanders with a very unique level of expertise. Two very strong assets that have contributed to the fact that we have been able to attract this leading conference to the city of Antwerp. 

Joke Schauvliege
Flemish Minister for Environment

Expertise at governmental and private level

After the application of the soil remediation plan in 1996 Flanders has set a goal to start the remediation of all historical polluted soils in a period of 40 years. In 2018 Flanders is on schedule. All soil researches on the historical risk soils will be done by 2028, the remediation will be started by 2036. A “healthy” soil is a necessary condition to guarantee important functions such as living, working and leisure. Soil protection and remediation are also necessary boundary conditions to enable a circular economy. This is shown for example at the Blue Gate site in Antwerp where soil remediation opens the path for an ecological company site.

Since then, the soil remediation sector has been able to develop strongly in Flanders, including soil experts, remediation contractors, environmental lawyers as well as environmental laboratories and the suppliers of specific products and equipment. The sector has in this period built a unique expertise from their home market. Outside Belgium this expertise is also highly appreciated. The Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM) regularly receives foreign delegations to explain our soil policy. The sector is involved for the support and execution of complex soil remediation in Europe, the Middle East, Canada, China … Many projects can be regarded as leading prestigious projects such as for example the remediation of the Olympic site in London.

Collaboration is the secret ingredient

The private soil remediation sector, the government (OVAM), the academic world and research and knowledge institutes (such as VITO’s Flemish Water Knowledge Centre/VLAKWA) have a long history in collaboration. This collaboration affects different aspects such as organizing feedback on legislation, setting up quality standards within the sector, codes of good practice, development of remediation solutions for specific environmental problems … The collaboration has also lead to initiatives to show Flanders to an international audience. The conference AquaConSoil was organized in Ghent the first time in 2003 by Flanders, and these same “soil parties” are now combining forces for AquaConSoil 2019 in Antwerp.

Antwerp perfect destination for international environmental conferences

The city of Antwerp has supported the ambitions of VITO’s Flemish Water Knowledge Centre (VLAKWA), the Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM) and the soil remediation sector from the beginning. Antwerp offers all the assets, from conference facilities to practical examples to receive this kind of international environmental conference. No coincidence, because from 24th until 29th February 2019 the city of Antwerp and OVAM also receive the next edition of the World Resources Forum in Antwerp.

Together with Tourism Flanders and the Antwerp Convention Bureau we work hard to promote Antwerp as an international business destination. Antwerp aims for an annual growth of 5 % for multi-day conferences, aimed at international associations active in the economic growth sectors (Innovation, High Tech, Life Science & Health, Chemistry, Transport and Logistics …). AquaConSoil fits perfectly into this vision where partners such as OVAM and VITO’s Flemish Water Knowledge Centre (VLAKWA) work together closely with the most important players from the industry. We are convinced that conference participants will enjoy Antwerp. The conference is not only taking place in the new State of the Art “Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp” but there is also a high variety in the city for locations, transport possibilities, and also the social and culinary aspect.

Koen Kennis
Antwerp Alderman for Finance, Mobility, Tourism, Municipal Decentralisation and Medium-sized Enterprises


AquaConSoil is organized from 20th to 24th May 2019 in the FMCCA in Antwerp. The programme includes plenary sessions and many workshops about sustainable management and use of soil, water soils and water resources. AquaConSiol is the largest European conference about applied soil sciences and techniques. An open call for abstracts will be released after the summer of 2018.