The WBI and AWEX Diplomatic Days were held from 29 August to 9 September 2022 in La Hulpe, Wallonia.
Centred around the themes of recovery and resilience, these Diplomatic Days marked the return of external networks dedicated to promoting the influence of Wallonia and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation in the world. The diplomatic and sectoral networks therefore met to take stock of the major international, cultural, economic, energy, health, societal and environmental issues in order to draw up a roadmap for the future in the face of global challenges.
The Diplomatic Days 2022 (#DD2022) mark the return for the first time in four years of all the members of the external networks of Wallonia-Brussels International (WBI) and the Walloon Export and Foreign Investment Agency (AWEX) associated with the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and Wallonia abroad: General Delegates, Scientific Liaison Officers (SLOs), Academic and Cultural Liaison Officers (ACLOs), Project Managers and Economic and Commercial Advisors (ECAs).
More than forty workshops took place during the Diplomatic Days, dealing with diplomacy, sectoral expertise and monitoring, recovery plans, synergies, knowledge sharing, and responses to the challenges of digital technology, innovation, sustainable development, the geopolitical context and energy tensions.
Our colleagues, some of whom had not been able to return to Belgium for many months, "reconnected" with the field through meetings with companies (Export Days) and two days of visits to the five Walloon Provinces.
Members of our networks abroad also met with the Minister-President of Wallonia, Elio Di Rupo, and the Minister-President of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (FWB), Pierre-Yves Jeholet, the Vice-President of the Walloon Government, Willy Borsus as well as the Presidents of the Parliaments of Wallonia, Jean-Claude Marcourt, and the FWB, Rudy Demotte.
As part of #DD2002, there was also mention of the 40 years of Wallonia-Brussels International. Forty years of international relations at the service of operators, entrepreneurs, talents and values of Wallonia-Brussels.
At the same time, the first edition of the "Wallonia International Business Awards" was held in the presence of the Ministers-Presidents, Elio Di Rupo and Pierre-Yves Jeholet, and the Vice-President, Willy Borsus. This event paid tribute to the success of Walloon companies on the international stage, as well as foreign investors in Wallonia.
Positive and constructive dynamic
The Administrator General of AWEX and WBI, Pascale Delcomminette, welcomed the "strengthening of interactions between all the external networks and a moment of reconnection and sharing of expertise and best practices between the AWEX and WBI teams, both in Belgium and abroad. In a world that is becoming increasingly complex, this allows for more and more synergies and greater efficiency for the benefit of our operators and a greater impact of our entities." The Diplomatic Days are a "real exercise in collective intelligence," she said.
"As external networks, you are the bridgeheads of the international influence of Wallonia and the FWB and the relays for all their stakeholders around the world. Together, we must make a difference internationally in an uncertain world thanks to our posts abroad. The international dimension has an impact on the lives of citizens: because of its size, Wallonia and Brussels, and by extension Belgium, are resolutely interconnected to European and global flows," explained Pascale Delcomminette.
The external networks of Wallonia-Brussels
The WBI and AWEX international network is a plural force with diverse profiles and expertise, adaptable to global changes and contexts and offering synergies with other partners (SPF Foreign Affairs, embassies, etc.).
Posts abroad support culture, education, the French language, the economy and development cooperation. They also contribute to the attractiveness and socio-economic development of Wallonia and the FWB with a triple ambition: economic, social and ecological. In addition, they actively participate in the promotion and protection of human rights, multilateral values and the Sustainable Development Goals.
WBI's international presence consists of 15 General Delegations, 118 local staff abroad, 31 expatriate staff, 6 Scientific Liaison Officers (SLOs), 10 Academic and Cultural Liaison Officers (ACLOs), and 5 Project Officers. All of them work in collaboration with the AWEX network composed of 66 AWEX Economic and Trade Advisors (ETAs) and Trade Secretaries and their local staff.
In total, more than 500 women and men work for the visibility, influence and development of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and Wallonia in the world.