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Olgierd Puchalski, GRID-Warsaw

1. Executive Summary

Goal of the 1st ENRIN focal point seminar was to bring together our cooperating partners in Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia to have discussions on specific issues of the programme and outline continuation. The seminar was attended by 23 participants.

GRID-Arendal (Otto Simonett) gave an overall ENRIN presentation and also presented the UNEP terms and conditions for the establishment of GRID-compatible national centres. GRID-Geneva (Ron Witt) presented the actual and planned activities with regional initiatives in central and eastern Europe. Marek Baranowski gave an overview of the operations of GRID-Warsaw. All the ENRIN focal points gave short presentations on the status of the programme in their countries.

Publications of ENRIN assessments of the environmental information network in Russia, Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and the feasibility study for the establishment of a UNEP/GRID compatible environmental information network in Hungary were distributed to the participants.

Expert presentations were focusing on SoE reporting: GRID-Arendal (Bjørn Bore) presented the Norwegian SoE on Internet, GRID-Warsaw (Maria Andrzejewska) the Polish SoE report (digital version) and Ruben Mnatsakanian from the Central European University gave a general overview on the status of SoE reporting in the region.

Discussion then focused on the continuation of the ENRIN activities in the region. The participating countries are all at various stages of the ENRIN institutional development, thus the needs are somewhat varying.

The following list of priority issues was developed to be the base for discussions during the seminar:

Institutional Development

Institutional Set-Up


Data and Information Release (Price) Policy

UNEP Terms and Conditions for GRID-compatible National Centres




Cooperation with Other International Initiatives (EU, WHO, OECD)

Information Management

SoE Reporting for Decision-Makers and the Public

Potential of Internet

Graphic Production, Visual Communication

Directories (Meta-database)

The report on the seminar is presented in the following order:

1. Executive summary

2. ENRIN focal point presentations

3. Expert presentations

4. Structured brainstorming

5. Closing remarks

The programme of the seminar and the list of participants are included into the appendices.

2. ENRIN Focal Point Presentations

Summary of Statement from POLAND

Marek Baranowski, Environmental Information Centre, UNEP/GRID-Warsaw

Marek Baranowski gave a short presentation on GRID-Warsaw (G-W) establishment. The centre was created on the basis of an agreement between the Polish Ministry of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry and UNEP, its implementation was funded by the Norwegian Government. Since its opening, GRID-Warsaw performs three main functions: National Environmental Information Centre, UNEP/GRID co-operation centre and an active market member. The presentation also outlined the centre's external relations, international co-operation, presentations and visits, staff capabilities and technical means. The workshop participants had the opportunity to visit GRID-Warsaw on a guided tour in the evening.

Summary of Statement from HUNGARY

Pal Bozo, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Policy, Hungary

Pal Bozo discussed the environmental information system in Hungary and the development strategy of the environmental information network. The main problems in Hungary are related to the current practices of data collection. New environmental legislation has been proposed to deal with - among others - the public access to environmental data and information. In Hungary, a modern data collection system, based on regional environmental inspectorates equipped with GIS and telecommunication hard- and software, is being developed. The Hungarian network's hub at the Ministry of Environment is also to be a designated UNEP/GRID node.

Summary of Statement from ESTONIA

Andrus Meiner, Estonian Environment Information Centre

Andrus Meiner presented the Estonian Environment Information Centre and its role in providing environmental information to decision-makers. He also discussed institutional set-up and the program of the institution. The centre stays a part of the Ministry of Environment (MoE) with close collaboration with the counsellors of the MoE. The centre's main activities are:

  • supervising subcontractors to the environmental pollution program,
  • collecting data on environmental pollution sources and creating a governmental environmental meta-database,
  • preparation of an official Estonian state-of-the-environment report,
  • international co-operation.

The centre is well technically equipped. The recently gained connection to the WWW is found very efficient for data and information dissemination.

Summary of Statement from LATVIA

Ilze Kirstuka, Latvian Environment Data Centre, Ministry of Environment Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia

Ilze Kirstuka made a short presentation on the Environmental Data Centre in Latvia established in 1990 with the main task of a methodological support to the creation of ministerial databases, focusing on the principal centre's activities:

  • methodology development,
  • collecting, processing and quality control of data,
  • international co-operation (among others, with the UNEP/GRID network).

Summary of Statement from LITHUANIA

Zigmas Bigelis, Centre of Information Technology, Joint Research Centre, Ministry of Environment Protection, Lithuania

The Information Technology Centre (ITC) is one of the four bodies established after the restructuring of the Information Centre in Lithuania in 1994. Other then established institutions were the Environmental Centre, the Technical Support Centre and the Marine Research Centre located in Klajpeda. The main task of the ITC is to provide statistical information. The poor equipment conditions are now being improved through external project funding (mainly EU sources). During his presentation Zigmas Bigelis in particular discussed the following topics:

  • information networks (information flows) in Lithuania,
  • institutional network,
  • decision making process,
  • state-of-the-environment report in Lithuania,
  • preparation to the SoE 2001.

Summary of Statement from RUSSIA

Mikhail Filine, Federal Centre of Geoecological Systems of Russia

In his presentation Mikhail Filine spoke about the status and activities of the Federal Centre of Geoecological Systems. The centre is a designated GRID-node in Russia. A feasibility study has been completed, implementation steps are now underway, including the preparation of the Memorandum of Understanding between UNEP and the Russian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources.

Summary of Statement from UKRAINE

Anatoliy Shmurak, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety of Ukraine

Anatoliy Shmurak commented on the importance of co-operation with the UNEP/GRID network and presented task to be assigned to the prospective GRID-Kiev centre. A feasibility study for establishing a UNEP/GRID-compatible data and information network in Ukraine is in preparation. An emergency response centre is also being built up in the ministry. The latter issue raised up a discussion regarding the responsibility to be taken up by such an institution.

Summary of Statement from GEORGIA

Mamuka Gvilava, Georgian Scientific Information Centre, Georgia

Mamuka Gvilava made a presentation on the status of the ENRIN Programme in Georgia, with a particular emphasis on the following topics:

  • assessment (report on EIS in Georgia, workshop in Moscow),
  • feasibility study (environmental information network, GRID-Warsaw consultations),
  • goals to be achieved (feasibility study, implementation, SoE, networking with Armenia and Azerbaijan, workshop, data-information conversion, meta-data activity),
  • institutional set-up in Georgia.

3. Expert Presentations

State of Environment Norway on Internet

Bjørn Bore, UNEP/GRID-Arendal

State of Environment report (SoE) for Norway 1994 was presented by Bjørn Bore. This was an on-line version of the SoE prepared for the Rio Conference (primarily PC-based), updated to 1994 and adopted for WWW presentation purposes. Every theme of the on-line version is structured and consists of the following clusters:

  • a set of indicators based on a "pressure - state - response" model (as suggested in 1991 by the Norwegian Ministry of Environment and the Norwegian Central Bureau of Statistics),
  • a statement (based on the text of report)
  • related links for source, background or more detailed information,

The SoE Norway was created using standard software such as simple word processors, graphical and ArcInfo software for spatial data handling, and hypertext software to create links. It was decided to use only few indicators for each theme along with simple text comments and attractive graphics in order to reach as wide as possible audience. The on-line availability of data-sources depends upon the hardware and the access rights of user. The creation of the SoE on Internet took not more then 4 months (1 month for the first draft, 2 months for creating and choosing indicators, and 1 month for structuring and illustrating).

The participants were interested both in technical aspects and the contents of the SoE on Internet. Maria Andrzejewska inquired which institutions had suggested such set of indicators and what software had been used. Marek Baranowski and Olgierd Puchalski asked about source data availability. Ron Witt expressed his fear against an oversimplification from using a limited set of indicators. On the other hand it was agreed that the use of too many indicators would complicate the conclusions and decisions made upon. An OECD publication "Core Set of Environment Indicators" (1994) was believed to present a chance for unifying (or, at least, for providing a basis for comparability of) SoEs. Mamuka Gvilava noticed a lack of guidelines for a WWW version of SoE with regard to such issues as various SoEs comparability and compatibility different SoEs, which were agreed to be as important as the data availability and user response. Zigmas Bigelis and Andrus Meiner suggested the creation of separate versions of SoE for different types of users, although a version for school pupils should be also understandable for e.g. decision-makers. Reports at different scales should be prepared respectively for national, regional and local policy-makers.

State of Environment Poland, Digital Version

Maria Andrzejewska, Environmental Information Centre UNEP/GRID-Warsaw

Maria Andrzejewska gave a presentation on the SoE for Poland. The product is based on PC GRASP software. The report was broadly presented to the participants. General overview, contents, processing and data and map source issues were thoroughly described.

The Polish version of SoE report was also highly appraised by participants. Zigmas Bigelis and Andrus Meiner asked about the cost difference of printed and electronic versions. Bjørn Bore and Ron Witt inquired about the recurrence and an Internet version. (The next version to be developed in 1996 will be possibly prepared for WWW access as well.)

State of Environment Reporting in Central and Eastern Europe

Ruben Mnatsakanian, Central European University

At the beginning of his presentation Ruben Mnatsakanian described the status, studies and research activities of Central European University. One of the implemented projects is a comparison of state of environment reports produced by different countries of Europe based on the outputs received from analysing various reports. The methodological aspects of the project are related to the integration of various sources, the preparation of regional-scale SoEs, the identification of regional and continental problem areas. Preliminary output of the presented SoE work focused on the environmental-problem areas of the Danube river, the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Central Asia. A database of information sources is now being prepared as a base for a deeper analysis.

Participants raised questions concerning editing (Mamuka Gvilava) and incorporating other sources into the concept of environmental problem areas (Andrus Meiner).

4. Structured Brainstorming

During this part of the seminar the list of priority issues proposed by Otto Simonett and complemented by the participants was thoroughly discussed. The focal points and other participants made suggestions and comments based on their experience. Conclusions, whenever possible, were drawn out. The discussion followed the list of priority issues (see the Executive Summary).

Institutional Development

Institutional Set-Up

A draft of the UNEP's document 'Detailed Terms and Conditions for the Establishment of GRID-compatible National Centres' was distributed to all the participants as a base for discussion and development of future co-operative agreements. In principle, UNEP co-operating institutions have to be designated by the Ministry of Environment. The discussion mainly focused on the status in the national institutional framework of UNEP/GRID centres to ensure accessibility, quality of products and sustainability of the network.

Marek Baranowski commented that a GRID centre should be both a non-profit and a non-governmental organisation at the same time. That dualism is hard to maintain in reality, and hence there is a strong necessity of playing an active market (commercial) role. In case of GRID-Warsaw, profits gained from this area are spent for core activities. It is very difficult to achieve such a balance for newly created centres.

There are certainly several ways of institutional placement and development (Otto Simonett), and the situation may be country-dependent (Mamuka Gvilava). Some advantages of establishing a GRID centre close to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (like data access and funding) are clear. However difficulties raise when attempting to create an operational centre within administration body (Marek Baranowski). On the other hand GRID centre should not become a consulting company. The thorough evaluation and discussion of all these aspects is an integral component of the ENRIN feasibility study (Otto Simonett).

Andrus Meiner noted a new trend in the evolution of administrative bodies in Central and Eastern Europe, which are now more operational that their predecessors. In the case of the Estonian Environment Information Centre this was implemented by attaching the centre to the ministry and simultaneously giving it some administrative freedom.


Trying to summarise and structure the discussion, Anatoliy Shmurak proposed a list of criteria for UNEP/GRID co-operating networks and centres sustainability:

  1. The network/centre must take part in information management regarding the most important and urgent ecological tasks in the country,
  2. The network/centre must regularly enlarge the scope of its clients and the number of users (10% progress per year was suggested),
  3. The network/centre must have at least one regular governmental order (task) per year,
  4. The network/centre must have a certain mandate to receive national ecological information,
  5. The network/centre must be very careful about its status of independence:

  • it must be an owner of the land, premises, hardware and software,
  • it must have some independent financial source,
  • it should act in a good economic situation in the country.

The discussion around this list ended in a general statement that hardly any of the existing GRID centres would comply with these criteria (Ronald Witt). On the other hand the core objectives of UNEP/GRID network (i.e. bridging the gap between the scientific understanding and efficient management of the environment, and providing the decision-makers with appropriately processed information) should also be maintained (Ronald Witt).

The need for enlarging the scope of UNEP/GRID clients was recognised as very important (Ronald Witt). Resources should be provided beforehand for serving the users with high-quality information (Marek Baranowski). Here a question arises if UNEP/GRID, as an international organisation, should not be more targeted towards the international audience and leave the internal users to NGOs (Andrus Meiner).

Data and Information Release (Price) Policy

Another question was whether to charge users for the information, and if so -- to what extent. On the one hand, UNEP adheres to its policy of public-domain data and information distribution, on the other there are existing markets for information products. In countries with economies in transition in particular the environmental information has become a mean for bridging the funding gaps of governmental bodies and scientific institutions.

Several patterns are practised among the centres, such as charging users when there are no financial resources for fulfilling the request otherwise, charging for the time and processing involved (Marek Baranowski), distinguishing between users according to their field of activity (scientific, commercial, decision-making, educational) or scale of data requested, or not charging for single copies to avoid additional bureaucratic work (Andrus Meiner). This topic certainly requires urgent specification and unification within GRID network. Data release and pricing policies must be harmonised and publicised.

In case of Hungary the data distribution policy is going to be regulated soon by a ministerial decree so as to charge users only for media (Pal Bozo).


Marek Baranowski opened the discussion on networking. The process of creating the ENRIN network of GRID centres occurs world wide, with its progress depending on response from national governments and regional bodies. There is a strong need of connecting all the centres with a general information network.

Along with certain advantages (free constant access to information enabling easy updating, standard transfer protocols, selection flexibility (Bjørn Bore)) the very limited audience reached at relatively high cost was expressed as an obstacle against putting information on the Internet. There are only few schools, universities and other institutions connected to the network in Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia and other countries and still much less with full access to Internet. However one should override the prejudice against Internet as it will develop very fast (an example of Metropolitan Area Networks in Poland) and certainly will become an efficient way of future data exchange network and information dissemination. To help national centres participating in the ENRIN Programme in overcoming their equipment and technical shortages Otto Simonett proposed GRID-Arendal's server for hosting the national SoE reports until the participants are not able to provide such service themselves.

As a networking tool, an e-mail newsletter was proposed. It should be a very general newsletter, released on a biweekly or monthly basis, with information on GIS, image processing (Ronald Witt) and expert, and current and forthcoming conference activities (Marek Baranowski, Zigmas Bigelis). The newsletter should be short and substance-oriented, with direct contact point addresses (Marek Baranowski). In the future it may form a database of most important topics ongoing in the GRID network (Zigmas Bigelis). It may also contain an informal part with requests, not quite serious questions and jokes (Zigmas Bigelis). It certainly should inform about reporting needs of each centre (Andrey Semichaevsky).

Workshops are another very important tool for strengthening networking capabilities (Otto Simonett). ENRIN workshops were suggested to be at maximum two-day long, more structured and branched. The first one was assumed to have been ad-hoc, informative and somehow general. The others however should use more thematic-oriented approach. One was proposed to deal with SoE report structure unification (Zigmas Bigelis), another one with the other, currently not present, focal points (Marek Baranowski). Marek Baranowski proposed Warsaw to host another meeting.

Other regional workshops should also be attended by ENRIN participants and are regarded as occasions for meetings and sharing experience.

Information Management: Meta-Database

Due to limited time at the workshop, the structured discussion focused only on meta-database issues. Other information management issues were discussed during the presentations.

List of data-sets available from other focal points centres should be included in regional and global meta-database and made available on WWW (Otto Simonett), supplied with institutional information and necessary references to the organisations holding data-sets (Ronald Witt). The idea of creating such a meta-database was found a good point to start co-operation. Olgierd Puchalski proposed GRID-Warsaw as a mediating centre (between the Headquarters in Nairobi and Central and Eastern European countries) in disseminating information related to GRID meta-data activity and offered help in obtaining standard GRID meta-database.

5. Closing Remarks

The workshop has succeeded in exposing a series of issues which are important, if not critical, for the ENRIN establishment in Central and Eastern Europe. For the benefit of the program and participating centres the following actions will be taken:

  1. GRID-Geneva and GRID-Warsaw will cooperate with GRID-Arendal to assure that national participants' needs are elaborated and responded to during ongoing ENRIN capacity-building efforts in 1996-97;
  2. The national participants will formulate relevant proposals for developing their own centres and networking activities at home;
  3. A similar workshop can be planned for an appropriate time in 1996 to access progress and include other national participants from additional Central and Eastern European countries.

As a conclusion, Otto Simonett stated the need for being initiative and creative. United institutions and strengthened links between individuals representing them were noticed as an important output of this seminar.

Appendix 1: List of Participants

Andrey Semichaevsky

Central European University, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy

9 Nador ut, Budapest H-1051

tel.: +36 1 3273021

fax: +36 1 3273021


Anatoliy Shmurak

Ministry for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety of Ukraine

5 Khreshchatyk St., 252601 Kiev, Ukraine

tel.: +(380-44)2287343

fax: +(380-44)2298050


Valeriy Malyarenko

Ministry for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety of Ukraine

5 Khreshchatyk St., 252001 Kiev, Ukraine

tel.: +(380-44)2287343

fax: +(380-44)2298050


Valentina Tkachenko

Ministry for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety of Ukraine

5 Khreshchatyk St., 252001 Kiev, Ukraine

tel.: +(380-44)2287343

fax: +(380-44)2298050


Mzia Gvilava

Ministry of Environmental Protection

68a, Kostava St., 380015 Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

tel.: +995 8832 230664

fax: +995 8832 983425


Malkhaz Khurtsidze

Georgian Scientific Information Centre

22 Napareuli St., 380128 Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

tel.: +995 8832 222014, +995 8832 235986

fax: +995 8832 983425


Mamuka Gvilava

Georgian Scientific Information Centre

22 Napareuli St., 380128 Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

tel.: +995 8832 222014, +995 8832 235986

fax: +995 8832 983425


Tamar Bakuradze

Georgian Scientific Information Centre

22 Napareuli St., 380128 Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

tel.: +995 8832 222014, +995 8832 235986

fax: +995 8832 983425


Manana Kurtubadze

Georgian Scientific Information Centre

22 Napareuli St., 380128 Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

tel.: +995 8832 222014, +995 8832 235986

fax: +995 8832 983425


Zurab Jincharadze

Georgian Scientific Information Centre

22 Napareuli St., 380128 Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

tel.: +995 8832 222014, +995 8832 235986

fax: +995 8832 983425


Kerepesi 86, Budapest, Hungary


Ruben Mnatsakanian

Central European University

Nador ut. 9, H-1051 Budapest, Hungary

tel.: +36 1 3273071, +36 1 3273021

fax: +36 1 3273031


Zigmas Bigelis

Centre of Information Technology

Joint Research Centre, Ministry of Environment Protection

A. Juozapaviciaus 9, 2600 Vilnius, Lithuania

tel.: +370 2 722563

fax: +370 2 728020


Ilze Kirstuka

Latvian Environment Data Centre, Ministry of the Environment Protection and Regional development of the Republic of Latvia

2 Straumes St., Jurmala, LV 2015

Tel.: +371 2 762282

Fax: +371 2 764439, +371 8 820442


Mikhail Filine

Federal Centre of Geoecological Systems, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of the Russian Federation

P.O. Box 785, Central Post Office, Moscow, 101000 Russia

fax: +7 095 2546772, +7 095 2848666


Otto Simonett


P.O. Box 1602 Myrene, Arendal 4801, Norway

tel.: +47 370 35650

fax: +47 370 35050


Bjørn Bore


Longum Park, P.O. Box 1602, Arendal 4801, Norway

tel.: +47 370 35650, +47 90 104523

fax: +47 370 35050


Pal Bozo

Ministry for Environmental Protection and Regional Policy

Budapest, Fo UTCA 44-50, H-1011

tel.: +36 1 2012216

fax: +36 1 2012361


Andrus Meiner

Estonian Environment Information Centre

33 Mustamae Tee, EE-0006 Tallinn, Estonia

tel.: +372 6394151

fax: +372 6394071


Ronald G. Witt


11, Chemin des Anemones, CH-1219 Chatelaine

Geneva, Switzerland

tel.: +41 22 9799294, +41 22 9799295

fax: +41 22 9799029


Anne S. Bjelland

First Secretary Embassy of Norway

Chopina 2a, 00-559 Warsaw, Poland

Marek Baranowski


Merliniego 9, 02-511 Warszawa

tel./ fax: + 48 22 488561

e-mail: marekb@plearn.bitnet

Maria Andrzejewska


Merliniego 9, 02-511 Warszawa

tel./fax: + 48 22 488561


Olgierd Puchalski


Merliniego 9, 02-511 Warszawa

tel./fax: + 48 22 488561


Appendix 2: Agenda

1st ENRIN Focal Points Seminar

October 26-27, 1995

(Marriott Hotel, Syrena-Wawel conference room)

Thursday, October 26

14.00 - 14.15 Welcome (Marek Baranowski)

14.15 - 14.30 Presentation of the UNEP ENRIN Programme (Otto Simonett),

14.30 - 16.00 Short presentations prepared by representatives of participating focal points

16.00 - 16.30 Coffee break

16.30 - 17.30 Discussion

17.30 Closure

18.30 Visit to UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre

20.00 Dinner (Foksal Restaurant, Warsaw)

Friday, October 27

8.00 - 11.00 Expert Presentations: - SoE Norway on Internet (Bjørn Bore, G-A) - SoE Poland (Maria Andrzejewska, G-W) - SoE reporting in general (Prof. Ruben Mnatsakanian)

9.45 - 10.15 Coffee break

11.00 - 12.00 Structured Brainstorming on Burning Issues

12.00 - 12.30 Presentation of priority issues coming up from the brainstorming

12.30 - 13.30 Lunch

13.30 - 16.00 Final discussion, adaptation of conclusions and recommendations

14.45 - 15.00 Coffee break

16.00 Closure

Last updated 10 April, 1996 by Lorant Czaran