Integrity at ILVO

ILVO is a scientific institution of the Flemish Government responsible for research and services with a view to sustainable agriculture, fisheries and nutrition. In carrying out this assignment, the ILVO is in close contact/consultation with various stakeholders who each have their own interest in mind. It is in this field that ILVO monitors the scientific integrity and possible conflicts of interest in carrying out its tasks. The ILVO has an explicit integrity policy and is based on the Code of Ethics for scientific integrity.

Integrity for government assignments

Animal trials consistent with ethics code

Contact persons for Integrity

Within ILVO, Gerard Meganck and Björn Possé are the contact persons regarding matters of integrity. Notices of alleged infringements or questions about integrity related to ILVO can be forwarded to meldpunt.integriteit@ilvo.vlaanderen.be.

ILVO culture

Strategic goal related to the integrity policy of ILVO

SG #5: There is an overarching open culture where ILVO goals prevail over the interests of the research group or the individual employee and the ILVO value of being an example is embodied.

HR Policy Plan 2016 – 2019

Theme 1: Open culture
We are committed to creating and maintaining an open culture so that all work-related matters can be respectfully negotiated between executives and employees (in both directions) and between colleagues irrespective of function, degree or training.

Vision

In the strategic ILVO vision document "Towards 2020 and beyond" ILVO lays three horizontal foundations under its thematic research lines: Systems thinking, the integration of many kinds of knowledge and the ILVO values.

ILVO values

Five essential values form the bedrock of ILVO’s human capital: 1) working together, 2) being an example; 3) proactivity; 4) professionalism and 5) positivity. These values are the automatic touchstone for management decisions. Brought to life via a personnel action plan, the importance of these five ILVO values are repeatedly presented in different ways to all teams and groups. The values also play a role in recruitment and evaluation criteria.

Working together

ILVO is an open, approachable and accessible organization. We consider it to be both evident and an honor to be interlocutor, colleague, source of information and service provider for policymakers, relevant sectors, universities, social actors, and a go-to for local organizations and citizens. In 2017, ILVO’s management team used the value of “working together” as the foundation for more and better internal collaborations and targeted partnerships with other knowledge centers (universities, structural consultations with Flemish scientific institutions, Agrolink Flanders, and more).

Being an example

There is a Flemish saying: “words wake people up, but examples sink in”. A knowledge institution wishing to stimulate sustainable and profitable agricultural, fisheries and food products must show exemplary performance in its own experimental way of working and applied research. This means that ILVO’s experimental farm, experimental fields and greenhouses, the Food Pilot, and labs must strive for perfection. But that is not all: when ILVO talks about sustainability, the ILVO personnel themselves give the example, such as through an ILVO-wide sustainability day (workshops) and an internal sustainability working group. When we consider investing in our infrastructure and machinery, sustainability criteria are taken seriously. Academic integrity is also taken seriously. We implement the European and Belgian definition of academic integrity by drawing up an active training plan for all levels, with internal ethical “dilemma exercises”, monitoring, a complaint procedure and a well-considered system of sanctions.

Proactivity

The relatively long term required to generate scientific knowledge contradicts the fast-moving nature of some social evolutions. Although ILVO does not hyper-respond to the latest sensational news, we are a flexible and agile organization that, within a reasonable time frame, can address questions and concerns. We answer questions from policymakers, sectors that finding themselves in acute crisis situations, and citizens who, due to sudden events, are looking for reliable background information. ILVO’s researchers have been trained to quickly consult specialized scientific literature. Recent examples include responses to the climate issue as related to agriculture, and the concern for the health of residents living close to large animal farms.

Proactivity means that we seek out and track down developing opportunities. And that we consciously keep our finger on the pulse of both local and global challenges. This vision statement is a proactive exercise to keep ILVO’s research on track to 2030 and beyond.

Professionalism

ILVO strives to reach far deeper than just a façade of professionalism. The professional attitude at work, and even outside of work, is a standard - a way of being. Thoroughness, quality, timeliness, service orientation, friendliness, open and transparent communication, spontaneous responsibility, commitment, etc... These are some aspects of how ILVO understands professionalism. We reinforce these values by offering all ILVO employees training opportunities, good leadership tools and a stimulating work environment with the most modern scientific equipment.

Positivity

Optimism is a moral duty. When looking at the situation of primary production and the many challenges confronting our sector, you’ll see that pessimism is lurking just around the corner. That is why ILVO strongly advocates for a positive attitude: research and innovation will lead to sustainable improvements in production that will benefit the people, the animals and our environment. ILVO employees are therefore more likely to show themselves as ‘yes’-sayers rather than ‘yes-but’ thinkers. ILVO wants to be open to listening, helping and being reliable. By making this value concrete, ILVO has already generated high scores on customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction surveys.

Ethical guidelines for ILVO employees

The code of ethics for the staff of the Flemish government must be respected by each employee and can be found in the circular number BZ/2011/6 dated July 2011.

All ILVO staff members share a responsibility for the organization. It is not acceptable if ILVO employees confine their involvement to the mere execution of a specific task. When any ILVO employee notices a problem or potential problem, they have a duty to take action. Every ILVO employee must be able to hold colleagues and superiors responsible for the agreements made, using feedback and respectful confrontation.

Every ILVO employee is obliged to respect the ILVO policy on scientific integrity. Specifically, this means:

  • The endorsement of the Code of Ethics for scientific integrity.
  • The reporting of infringements or alleged infringements of this Code of Ethics.
  • Reporting possible conflicts of interest when performing a specific assignment. These interests may be related to the financial situation of the ILVO employee or of immediate family members who live with the ILVO staff member or professional activities that may conflict with the intellectual ownership of the results.
  • Reporting of ethical or integrity-related dilemmas so that they can be discussed at the ILVO level and can lead to decisions in accordance with the general ILVO policy.