About the governor
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Who is governor of Flemish Brabant?
I would like to introduce myself. My name is Lodewijk De Witte. I grew up in Zwevegem, West Flanders, but for my higher education, I came to Leuven and just like many students from elsewhere I lost my heart to this centuries-old and dazzling city. In 1977 I graduated from law school and searched my way through the job market. My guiding principle was to work in an environment where social engagement and general interest come first. After several jobs, I joined the Emile Vandevelde Institute in 1981. From 1988, I started working for the cabinet of the minister, successively as advisor, deputy private secretary and principal private secretary. 1994 saw my appointment as government commissioner and I was put in charge of the preparation for the split of the unitary province of Brabant. I became the first governor of the new province of Flemish Brabant, which was created on 1 January 1995 together with Walloon Brabant.
What is the governor’s specific role?
As provincial governor I am not only president of the delegation, the ‘government’ of the provincial administration, I also carry out tasks for the Flemish and federal government. From each of these positions I have specific duties to perform, but as provincial governor, I primarily aim to be a mediator between the various authorities active in the province of Flemish Brabant: the federal government, the Flemish government, the provincial administration and the local administrations.
You do not resolve social issues by quarrelling and bickering between administrations. Nor by only having eyes for your own competences as seen from your own cubicle. But by looking at the problems together, by deliberating and by developing common measures. Since as governor, I find myself at the junction of several administrative levels and I have multiple contacts with highly diverse social actors, I often pick up signals and quickly recognise policy options and gaps. With my job, I am in a good position to mediate, seek consensus and coordinate between authorities and to take on a stimulating and supporting role for local administrations.
The governor is the president of the delegation without voting right. In this way I am fully involved in the administration of Flemish Brabant. In my role as interface between various authorities, I want to think with the delegation in terms of targeted regional administration and as key initiator of policy on economy, mobility, environmental planning, etc.
As provincial governor, I have been tasked in the past by policy areas such as integrated water policy, mobility and the policy in the Vlaamse Rand to coordinate consultations and collaboration between local authorities, Flemish government services, civil society organisations, etc. The aim is to reach a common vision or to monitor the execution of policy agreements. Recently the Flemish government has even strengthened this coordination role and requested me to act as a mediator and coordinator in major investment projects, in which several authorities and policy levels were involved and whereby an integrated approach was critical to the success of these projects.
The provincial governor is also in charge of the administrative supervision of the local administrations (municipalities, social services, police zones, polders and flood protection, etc.). Strictly speaking administrative supervision implies that decisions are tested locally for their conformity with the law and their general interest. First and foremost, however, it is my mission to support the local administrations in Flemish Brabant to reach their goals correctly. In this way I strive to be a contact, counsellor and partner close to the local administrations, to safeguard the principles of sound government and to monitor the honest treatment of all interested parties.
For the federal government I carry out a number of safety tasks as governor. Safety is important; the government strives for all citizens to feel safe. Safety is a condition to meet each other as citizens and develop a social network and is also a condition for personal freedom and development. As governor I am also responsible for the integral safety in my province, together with the mayors, the public prosecutors, the police, etc. Our attention is primarily focused on traffic safety, thefts and break-ins, a good emergency plan, etc.