GPS tracker

Report based on a workshop held in Kyiv, Ukraine, 1-3
December 1997


Compiled by:  За лучший экологическо-образовательный фильм.


Jeremy Harrison (WCMC)
Claudia Heberlein
(GRID-Arendal)
Nickolai Denisov (GRID-Arendal)
and

Anatol Shmurak (Ministry for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety
of Ukraine)


January 1998


CONTENTS
0. About the Authors

1. Background
2. Reporting policies of international and regional
programmes

2.1 Global
biodiversity-related treaties

2.2
Other global agreements

2.3
International programmes and projects

2.4 Sources of support
3. Harmonization of international reporting
3.1 CSD Proposals
3.2 UNEP meetings on co-ordination of secretariats of
international conventions

3.3
Harmonisation of reporting and information management for global
biodiversity-related conventions

3.4
Synergies among the Rio agreements

3.5 Conference of European Statisticians
4. Reporting and the use of indicators
4.1 Global Agreements
4.2 Programmes and projects
5. International effort to increase access to information

5.1 Metadatabases and clearing
houses

5.2 Networks
5.3 Organisations specialising in information
management and information services

6.
Reporting in the newly independent states

6.1 Workshop reports by country
7. Conclusions and recommendations
7.1 National reporting and information management

7.2 Guiding principles in requesting
and producing national reports

7.3
Streamlining requests for national reports

7.4 Harmonisation between international conventions and
programmes

7.5 Conclusions and
recommendations of the Kyiv workshop

8. Sources
8.1
Papers

8.2 Web sites
Annex: Acronyms and Abbreviations




0. About the Authors


The World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), based in Cambridge,
UK is a joint­venture between the three partners in the World Conservation
Strategy and its successor Caring For The Earth: IUCN ­ The World
Conservation Union, UNEP ­ United Nations Environment Programme, and WWF
­ World Wide Fund for Nature. WCMC provides information services on
conservation and sustainable use the world's living resources, and helps others
to develop information systems of their own.


UNEP/GRID-Arendal is one or thirteen centres of UNEP's Global
Resources Information Database network. Since 1994, UNEP/GRID-Arendal in close
co-operation with UNEP headquarters, UNEP Regional Office for Europe and
UNEP/GRID-Geneva has been implementing the UNEP Environmental Resource
Information Network (ENRIN) programme aimed at capacity building in the field of
environmental information and state-of-the-environment reporting. The programme
in particular focuses on strengthening national capacities in
state-of-the-environment reporting and using advanced tools and approaches for
the presentation and communication of environmental information.


The Ministry for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety is
GRID-Arendal's Ukrainian partner in the UNEP Environmental Resource Information
Network (ENRIN) programme.


This report has been commissioned by UNEP's Regional Office for Europe as
part of the framework project Assistance in the Introduction of National
Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans in Central and Eastern Europe within
the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy/Action Theme 0.2.
























Copyright: 1998 WCMC and UNEP
Copyright release: This publication may be reproduced in whole or in part and
in any form for educational or non-profit purposes provided
acknowledgement of the source is made. WCMC and UNEP would appreciate
receiving a copy of any publication that uses this publication as a
source.
Reproduction: Resale or use of this publication for other commercial
purpose is prohibited without the prior written permission of the
copyright holders.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily
those of WCMC or UNEP. The designations employed and the presentations do
not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of WCMC or
UNEP concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area
or concerning the delineation of its frontiers or boundaries.

1. BACKGROUND


Increasing concern has been expressed over the burden being placed on
national governments to provide information for international programmes. For
example, with regard to the overall reporting situation on sustainable
development, the UN Commission on Sustainable development notes that:


'Member States have over the past few years expressed concern over the
increasing number of national reports they are required to submit in compliance
with conventions, agreements reached at major conferences and global programmes
of action. For all countries the requests constitute a burden, but for countries
with limited capacity the burden has become overwhelming. It is also apparent
that some of the information requested is duplicative and redundant.' (CSD
Update III/5 1997)


Biodiversity reporting follows a similar trend. There are a growing number of
international and regional organisations in need of structured, aggregated and
easily accessible biodiversity information from the national level. In addition,
a number of international biodiversity programmes also request more general
environmental and socio-economic information. National authorities in charge of
such information regularly find themselves under an increasing pressure of
diverse and uncoordinated requests. Due to funding-related and structural
reasons, the processing of such requests is often poorly co-ordinated within a
country. This results in duplication of effort and lack of efficiency of
individual capacity-building initiatives implemented by bilateral and
multilateral donors.


This report on Streamlining and Harmonisation of Biodiversity Information and
Reporting in the NIS has been commissioned by UNEP's Regional Office for Europe
as part of their contribution to implementation of the Pan-European Biological
and Landscape Diversity Strategy. In particular, this work supports
implementation of Action 0.2 in the Action Plan 1996-2000 which aims to Assist
introduction of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans [as required
by the CBD] in all countries of Europe by the year 2000.


The objective of the report is to summarise the existing requirements,
institutional setting and capacity development assistance of various
international programmes with regard to the delivery of biodiversity information
from the national level, as well as to make recommendations on how to streamline
and harmonise the international programmes' reporting policies in order to
facilitate national biodiversity reporting and other reporting activities in the
Newly Independent States. The report will serve as a background for a
comprehensive proposal for the streamlining and harmonisation of national
biodiversity reporting in the NIS.


2. REPORTING POLICIES OF INTERNATIONAL AND REGIONAL
PROGRAMMES


National reporting contributes to two separate and important processes.
Firstly it provides an outward-looking reporting process which ensures that
countries establish baseline data, monitor progress, provide transparency and
share experiences and information with others, and indicate areas of priority,
progress and constraint. Secondly it promotes an internal, inward-looking
process that brings together an array of stakeholders at the national level to
review progress, interact, and work towards a common assessment and common
purpose.


2.1 Global biodiversity-related
treaties

There are five global biodiversity-related treaties, each of
which has different reporting requirements. There is currently no harmonisation
of approach to the reporting process between the conventions, and each acts
independently.

2.1.1 Convention on Biological Diversity

Article
26 of the Convention states that 'Each Contracting Party shall, at intervals to
be determined by the Conference of the Parties, present to the Conference of the
Parties reports on measures which it has taken for the implementation of the
provisions of this Convention and their effectiveness in meeting the objectives
of this Convention'. Decision II/17 of the Conference of the Parties (COP)
concerning the form and interval of national reports by Parties, specifies that
the first national reports will be due at the fourth meeting of the COP and that
they 'will focus .... on the measures taken for the implementation of Article 6
of the Convention, as well as the information available in national country
studies'. Suggested guidelines are annexed to the Decision.

COP Decision III/9 concerning the Implementation of Articles 6 and 8 of the
Convention specifies that the first national reports referred to in COP Decision
II/17 should be submitted no later than 1 January 1998, taking into account COP
Decision III/25 that the next meeting would take place in Bratislava, Slovakia,
in May 1998. The Secretariat is expected to produce a summary of the reports for
the COP in May.


Possible further development of the guidelines was discussed in a paper
prepared for the third meeting of the CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific,
Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA): UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/3/Inf.16 Further
Guidelines for Preparation of National Reports. This is an issue that has been
raised in a wide range of meetings, including the NIS workshop, in particular
because of the breadth of issues covered by the convention, the necessity for
action to be cross-sectoral, and the fact that this is the first reporting
round.


2.1.2 Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Article VIII, paragraph 7 of the Convention
obliges each Party to prepare periodic reports on its implementation of the
Convention and to transmit to the Secretariat an annual report containing a
summary of trade in specimens of species included in Appendices I, II and III to
the Convention; and a biennial report on legislative, regulatory and
administrative measures taken to enforce the provisions of the present
Convention. The Secretariat produces Guidelines for the Preparation and
Submission of CITES Annual Reports, which can be amended with the concurrence of
the Standing Committee. No summary or overview report is compiled. WCMC manages
the trade statistics submitted by national management authorities on behalf of
the Convention Secretariat, and regularly produces reports based on these
statistics. A CITES Information Management Strategy is to be developed before
the next Conference of the Parties .

2.1.3 Convention on the Conservation of Migratory
Species of Wild Animals

Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Convention calls
upon parties that are range states of listed species to inform the Conference of
the Parties on their implementation of the Convention. Resolution 4.1 provides
an agreed format for those reports (there are in fact two formats, one for an
initial comprehensive report, and one for updating reports). Not all countries
report, and there is currently no summary or overview report based on the
national reports. There are several subsidiary agreements to the convention,
which also have a requirement for periodic reports on implementation.

The reporting system of the Convention and its related agreements is
currently under review. Resolution 5.4 on the strategy for the future
development of the convention recommends in its annex (Objective 3) that all
Parties should be encouraged to submit reports on national implementation of CMS
well before each COP, and an analysis of reports submitted by Parties should be
prepared from these and other sources. It is also recommended that a proposal be
developed to harmonise the reports from the various agreements, with a view to
making the reports more substantive, providing the COP with appropriate
information on the implementation of the Convention and making an input to the
Convention on Biological Diversity with respect to the conservation of migratory
species.


2.1.4 Convention Concerning the Protection of World
Cultural and Natural Heritage

While Contracting Parties are expected to
provide detailed information on sites nominated for inscription on the World
Heritage List, there is no periodic reporting requirement placed on States Party
(although there is an expectation that the World Heritage Committee and
Secretariat will be kept informed on a number of issues specified in the
Convention text and Operational Guidelines).

The Convention is implemented through the Operational Guidelines for the
Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which are maintained by the
Secretariat and endorsed by the World Heritage Committee (the decision making
body). The Operational Guidelines stress the importance of States Parties
putting in place on-site monitoring arrangements as an integral component of
day-to-day conservation and management. The States Parties are also invited to
submit a scientific report on the state of conservation of the World Heritage
sites on their territories every five years. States Parties may request expert
advice from the Secretariat or the advisory bodies to do this.


States Parties are expected to submit reports and impact studies when
circumstances occur or work is undertaken which may have an effect on the state
of conservation of a World Heritage site. Reactive monitoring is foreseen in the
procedures for the eventual deletion of properties from the World Heritage List,
as set out in the Operational Guidelines (Paragraphs 48-56). It is also foreseen
in reference to properties inscribed, or to be inscribed, on the List of World
Heritage in Danger (Paragraphs 82-89).


2.1.5 Convention on Wetlands of International
Importance

There are no specific provisions for submission of national
reports in the text of the Convention. Recommendation 2.1 of the Conference of
the Parties gave authority to the common practice established by the Bureau of
submission of national reports prior to the Conference of the Parties. Prior to
each Conference of the Parties, the Bureau officially requests submission of a
report, and provides an outline for national reports to be followed. Summary
reports are prepared for the Conference based on the national reports.

Contracting Parties must provide certain information on sites when they are
added to the List of Wetlands of International Importance, and the Bureau
periodically requests further information to allow it to review implementation
of the Convention. There is also a requirement for Contracting Parties to advise
the Bureau of any 'change in ecological character' of designated sites (Article
3), and where the threats to a site are of concern the site is added to the
Montreux Record established by Recommendation 4.8. Resolutions 5.4 and VI.1
identify the procedures that should be followed in notification, and in the
addition and removal of sites from the Montreux Record, and these include
requests for reports on the site concerned from Contracting Parties.


2.2 Other global agreements

Many other global
agreements relevant to the environment also place a reporting burden on national
governments. Three of these are discussed briefly here, Agenda 21, the Framework
Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention to Combat Desertification. All
three were adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and all three
are global in nature.

2.2.1 Reports to CSD concerning implementation of
Agenda 21

Following a Commission decision taken in 1993 at the first
session, national governments and other organisations were invited to submit
information to the Commission to allow it to monitor progress in the
implementation of Agenda 21. In preparation for its special session to review
and appraise the implementation of Agenda 21 held in June 1997, the UN General
Assembly requested the preparation of country profiles providing a concise
presentation of progress made and constraints encountered in implementing Agenda
21 at the national level (paragraph 13 (b) of resolution 50/113, 20 December
1995).

A common framework for reporting was provided by the CSD Secretariat,
reflecting the primary themes related to the social, economic and environmental
dimensions of Agenda 21. The reporting framework was made available to countries
as an electronic file on diskette. The country profiles prepared are available
electronically as well as in hard copy . An assessment of progress in the
implementation of Agenda 21 at the national level was made, based on the 100
country profiles received in time (CSD 1997).


In reviewing the 1997 reports, the Commission has recommended that:



  1. National reporting to the Commission continue;
  2. Rather than preparing new comprehensive reports on an annual basis,
    countries be requested to update the country profiles on an annual basis, as
    appropriate;
  3. Countries that have not yet done so prepare a comprehensive country
    profile; and
  4. Consistent with the proposals for streamlining national reporting
    requirements (see below), countries need to report separately to the
    Commission only on those issues on which they do not have to report to
    conferences of parties of international conventions and other
    intergovernmental bodies.

2.2.2 Framework Convention on Climate
Change

Contracting Parties are required to develop and publish periodic
national inventories of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks
of greenhouse gases not covered by the Montreal Protocol. They are also required
to report on steps taken or planned relevant to the objectives of the
convention. Articles 4 and 12 of the Convention request Contracting Parties to
prepare national communications, and guidelines for their preparation were
agreed by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention
on Climate Change (Decisions 9/2 and 10/1) and by Decision 3 of the first
Conference of Parties (see FCCC/CP/1995/7/Add.1). Decision 2 of the first
Conference of the Parties decided that each national communication should be
subject to an in-depth independent review to provide a thorough and
comprehensive technical assessment of the implementation of the Convention
commitments.

Article 4.1 of Convention requests Parties to make available to the
Conference of the Parties national greenhouse gas inventories using comparable
methodologies. Parties adopted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories as the standard
methodology for reporting their national greenhouse gas inventories (Decisions
3/CP.1 and 9/CP.2). In applying the IPCC guidelines, some Parties have
identified methodological issues and problems with respect to estimating and
reporting emissions and removals for the land-use change and forestry category.
Technical Paper FCCC/TP/1997/5 provides a brief overview of the issues related
to estimating and reporting land-use change and forestry emissions/removals
raised by Parties in the first and second national communications and in-depth
reviews of first national communications.


Copies of the executive summaries of national communications and the in-depth
reviews of the national communications are being made available on the UNFCCC
web site at .


2.2.3 Convention to Combat
Desertification

Article 26 of the Convention requires each Party to report
to the Conference of the Parties, through the Secretariat, on measures which it
has taken to implementation the Convention, and that the COP shall determine the
timetable for submission and the format of such reports. Article 22, paragraph 2
(b) of the Convention, requests the COP to promote and facilitate the exchange
of information on measures adopted by the Parties, and determine the form and
timetable for transmitting the information to be submitted pursuant to Article
26, review the reports and make recommendations on them.

Draft decisions before the first COP (September/October 1997) included
recommendations for organising and streamlining the communication of
information, and promoting and facilitating the exchange of information on
measures adopted by the Parties. Specific objectives of the procedures include
ensuring the effective assessment of progress towards achieving the objectives,
exchange of information and data among Parties, ensuring that the Committee on
Science and Technology and the global mechanism have access to the information
and data necessary to carry out their mandates, and ensuring that information on
implementation is in the public domain and available to the international
community.


2.3 International programmes and projects

Various
other international programmes and projects require information from national
governments for their efficient implementation. Some of these have a legal basis
for their requirements, and others do not.

2.3.1 European Environment Agency

The European
Environment Agency (EEA) carries out a range of tasks on behalf of the European
Commission, most of which involve collection and management of information
(through a network of national agencies and regional co-ordinating
organisations), and facilitating improvement in co-ordination between, and
access, to information sources managed by other organisations. The EEA was
established by EU Council Regulation 1210/90. The regulation setting up the EEA
also established the European Environmental Information and Observation Network
(EIONET), which comprises National Focal Points for each of the countries, Main
Component Elements (national agencies identified as key information sources
relevant to the programme of the Agency) and European Topic Centres
(institutions/organisations which are directly contracted by the EEA to execute
tasks identified in the EEA Multiannual Work Programme). Detailed information on
EEA's work can be found on their web site .

2.3.2 Dobris+3 report

This is the working title
for the second pan-European State of Environment report, being prepared by the
EEA and EIONET for the 4th Conference of European Environment Ministers to be
held in Århus in June 1998. The work is supported by the European Commission
(including through the PHARE and TACIS programmes), by UNEP, WHO and other
international organisations.

The report will give an overview of the changes in European environmental
quality, pressures on the environment and measures taken. Guidelines for data
collection have been developed (Guidelines for Data Collection for the Dobris+3
Report), and used as a basis for:



  1. Designing information management facilities at the EEA that will aggregate
    and present the data from various sources.
  2. Capturing data from databases of international organisations and other EEA
    programmes, and feeding them into the aggregated database.
  3. Developing questionnaires to be sent to national agencies for collecting
    data not already available through existing international programmes.
In designing the data requirements for the Dobris+3 report, use has
been made of the OECD core set of indicators and the CSD Indicators of
Sustainable development. As far as possible existing indicators and definitions
have been used, as these are used in the ongoing NEAP exercise in Central and
Eastern Europe, and in the country environmental performance reviews carried out
by the OECD and the ECE.

The process of developing the report is intended to be highly participatory.
More than 100 people in 44 countries have been working on the data collection
and compilation of the report. Apart from the data supplied by organisations
like OECD, EUROSTAT, UN-ECE, International Energy Authority and FAO, 13
questionnaires have been set out from the eight European Topic Centres, the
European Forest Institute and the EEA, to gather specific data. The writing of
the report also involves individuals from many institutes and organisations in
Europe, including World Health Organisation and the European Commission's Joint
Research Centre.


2.3.3 Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity
Strategy

This Strategy, adopted by Environment ministers at their meeting
in Sofia in 1995, aims for more effective conservation through better
integration of biodiversity and landscape conservation with other sectors. The
associated Action Plan includes a major programme for development of a
Pan-European Ecological Network. There are no national reporting functions built
into the strategy and action plan, but the European Centre for Nature
Conservation is working with IUCN and others to develop a communications
strategy for the Pan-European Strategy, and WCMC is working on a information
strategy for implementation of the Pan-European Ecological Network. Both
strategies will include reporting recommendations. Once these have been reviewed
by the Pan-European Strategy Bureau, and by the Committee of Experts for the
Pan-European Ecological Network, it is likely that nations participating in the
programme will be expected to report on implementation in a more structured
manner than at present.

2.3.4 Global Environment Outlook

The
Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is an ongoing world-wide environmental
assessment process. It was initiated in response to the environmental reporting
requirements of Agenda 21 and to a UNEP Governing Council Decision of May 1995
requesting production of the first in a new, comprehensive State of the
Environment Report series in time for the 1997 UNEP Governing Council. The first
report was published and released electronically in 1997 .

GEO-1 was developed through a regional and participatory process, with input
solicited from an extensive array of sources throughout the world including 20
regional Collaborating Centres, UN organisations, and independent experts.
Regional consultations organised by the UNEP Regional Offices were used to
review the material and information developed. The regional consultations
provided valuable suggestions for the improvement and future direction of the
Global Environment Outlook series. In later reports, the regional inputs will be
strengthened through the further development of the global network of
collaborating centres. These centres will be called upon to draw more widely on
the work of sectoral and national institutes so that the most accurate and
up-to-date information is included from the regional level.


2.3.5 UNESCO World Network of Biosphere
Reserves

Biosphere Reserves are sites that have been internationally
recognised within the framework of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB)
Programme. They are nominated by national governments, and must meet a minimal
set of criteria and adhere to a minimal set of conditions before being admitted
into the World Network. Information must be submitted on each site that is
nominated by national government, so that assessment can be made as to whether
the site meets the criteria set out in the Statutory Framework (Article 4), but
otherwise the only reporting requirement is that the status of each biosphere
reserve should be subject to a periodic review every ten years, based on a
report prepared by the concerned authority, on the basis of the criteria, and
forwarded to the secretariat by the State concerned (Article 9).

2.4 Sources of support

Sources of support for
implementation of each of these conventions, programmes and projects vary
widely, and support for reporting is rarely (if ever) obtainable as an
'independent' item, particularly for financial support. There are four potential
sources of assistance for national agencies, which apply to any convention or
programme requiring reporting:

  • sharing experience with other countries and agencies;
  • seeking the help and support of the secretariat;
  • requesting help and support from those agencies funding relevant
    programmes; and
  • requesting advice of international organisations working in the field.
Two examples are provided, one for one of the agreements discussed
above, and the other for one of the many multilateral and bilateral funding
sources.

2.4.1 Convention on Biological Diversity

Every
Contracting Party to the Convention in Biological Diversity should have
submitted its national report to the Secretariat. It is therefore late to
discuss potential sources of support for the process. However, there are several
ways in which Contracting Parties can seek active support for the process:

  • Sharing of experience: There is clear potential for Contracting Parties to
    discuss amongst themselves difficulties they are having in completing reports,
    and to share experience. This can be done bilaterally or at international
    meetings. The Kyiv workshop is an example of such an opportunity, and was
    specifically designed with the intention of fostering the sharing of
    experience. The importance of this approach should not be underestimated.
  • Secretariat: The Secretariat should have the broadest possible overview of
    the Convention and the progress being made by Contracting Parties in
    developing strategies, action plans and national reports. The Secretariat is
    therefore able to identify who might be able to assist Contracting Parties in
    their own particular circumstances.
  • Funding programmes: The GEF, through its three implementing agencies the
    World Bank, UNEP and UNDP, is supporting development of national strategies
    and action plans in many countries as part of its enabling activities (see
    below), and hence also preparation of national reports. There is also
    potential for developing mechanisms to share experience on development of
    national reports within the context of this programme, possibly through the
    proposed Global Support Programme.
  • International organisations: There are a number of international
    organisations with extensive experience of the Convention and its
    implementation. Several of these are closely involved with issues directly
    relevant to the first round of national reports, including development of
    strategies and action plans (IUCN, WRI), development and use of indicators
    (BIONET, Worldwatch Institute, WRI), and information collection, management
    and use (UNEP, WCMC).

2.4.2 Global Environment Facility

The GEF
provides grants and concessional funding to countries for projects and programs
that protect the global environment and promote sustainable economic growth. GEF
covers agreed incremental costs of activities that benefit the global
environment in four focal areas: climate change; biological diversity;
international waters; and stratospheric ozone. Countries are eligible for GEF
support if they are eligible for financial assistance through the financial
mechanism of either the Climate Change Convention or the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD), or if they are eligible to borrow from the World
Bank or receive technical assistance grants from UNDP through a Country
Programme.

The enabling activities in biodiversity are intended to support preparation
for the design and implementation of effective response measures required to
achieve the objectives of the CBD. Funds from this source are already assisting
countries to develop national strategies and action plans (Article 6 of the
Convention) and to identify key components of biodiversity and those activities
likely to have significant effect on these components (Article 7). These
activities are very relevant to the development of national reports, and as
small component of the funding is available for national reports.


Many countries are experiencing difficulties in implementing their
responsibilities for biodiversity planning and management, and rate of
implementation of the programmes supported by the enabling activities is slower
than expected. As a result, the GEF is considering the development of a Global
Support Programme for biodiversity enabling activities, which will help national
agencies to find the further practical support they require.


GEF projects and programs are managed through three implementing agencies:
the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the
World Bank. The GEF Secretariat, which is functionally independent from the
three implementing agencies, reports to and services the Council and Assembly of
the GEF. Further information on the GEF can be found on their website <
http://www.gefweb.org/gefgraph.htm >. Key documents include the GEF
Operational Strategy, and the Operational Guidelines for Enabling Activities for
both biodiversity and climate change.


3. HARMONIZATION OF INTERNATIONAL REPORTING


The secretariats of international treaties and programmes have a moral
obligation to be as efficient as possible in managing their information holdings
- much of which will be provided by reports from parties - and as has been said
earlier, there are increasingly calls from parties for secretariats to
collaborate more closely to gain synergies and to avoid duplication. In summary
there are two primary needs to be addressed:



  • the need to promote the development of a harmonised national information
    management infrastructure (which will enable countries to provide information
    to the secretariats effectively and efficiently, while directly enhancing
    their ability to implement the treaties); and
  • the need for secretariats to be as efficient as possible in the management
    and sharing of information, and to make it accessible to multiple audiences.

The time is opportune for consideration of harmonised information management
amongst the conventions and programmes, to capitalise on current interest and
momentum, and rapidly evolving technology before incompatible parallel
developments create expensive barriers to future integration. A number of
current efforts to do this are discussed.


3.1 CSD Proposals


The CSD Secretary General submitted a paper to the fifth session of CSD on
streamlining requests for national reporting (April 1997), reflecting growing
concern at the increasing number of national reports that countries are required
to submit. This paper lists reporting requirements through to the year 2000 that
are relevant to implementation of Agenda 21, identifying 29 separate reports.
The paper recommends that inter alia:



  1. Information relevant to Agenda 21 should be shared, avoiding requests for
    countries to provide the same information to more than one UN organisation or
    treaty secretariat.
  2. Information provided as a result of legally binding instruments should
    continue to be provided, but should be shared by international agencies
    wherever possible, so that the country is not asked to provide the same
    information by another agency.
  3. Information from national reports should be made available electronically
    on a country by country basis, wherever possible, in a manner that facilitates
    electronic linkages among the organisations of the UN and convention
    secretariats.
  4. The reporting calendar should be maintained, and information provided on
    how the reports relate, so that national governments and treaty secretariats
    can plan accordingly.
  5. A long term objective should be the move towards a national sustainable
    development web site in each country, which would allow national authorities
    to post relevant information for whoever needed it, thereby meeting in part
    their various reporting requirements.

The CSD has taken steps to begin implementation of these recommendations, by
making the national reports submitted to the UN General Assembly Special Session
to Review and Appraise the Implementation of Agenda 21 (New York, 23-27 June
1997) available online .


3.2 UNEP meetings on co-ordination of secretariats of
international conventions


Chapter 38 of Agenda 21 recognised the need for effective co-ordination
between all agencies involved in implementation of international environmental
conventions, requesting that UNEP pay particular attention to:


Further development of international environmental law, in particular
conventions and guidelines, promotion of its implementation, and co-ordinating
functions arising from an increasing number of international legal agreements,
inter alia, the functioning of the secretariats of conventions, taking into
account the need for the most efficient use of resources, including possible
co-location of secretariats established in the future.[Paragraph 38.15(h)]


This mandate was confirmed by the UN General Assembly Special Session, which
confirmed that:


The role of UNEP in the further development of international environmental
law should be strengthened, including the development of coherent interlinkages
among relevant environmental conventions in co-operation with their respective
conference of the parties or governing bodies.


As a result, UNEP has established a regular cycle of meetings on
Co-ordination of Secretariats of International Conventions, thus providing a
forum for information exchange, discussion, agreement and co-operation on issues
of mutual interest to participants, including harmonisation of information
management and reporting processes.


3.3 Harmonisation of reporting and information
management for global biodiversity-related conventions


The secretariats of the five global biodiversity-related treaties need to be
more efficient in the ways in which they collect and manage the information they
require. Increasingly there are calls from parties for secretariats to
collaborate more closely to gain synergies and to avoid duplication. For
example, Decision II/13 of the Conference of Parties of the Convention on
Biological Diversity:


Requests the Executive Secretary to co-ordinate with the Secretariats of
relevant biodiversity-related conventions, with a view to: (a) facilitating
exchange of information and experience; (b) exploring the possibility of
recommending procedures for harmonising, to the extent desirable and
practicable, the reporting requirements of Parties.....


WCMC has worked with the five treaty secretariats and UNEP to develop ideas
for increased harmonisation, which might include the following practical steps:



  1. Preliminary consultation between representatives of all interested
    secretariats and other potential co-operating agencies such as GEF, UNDP,
    UNEP, the World Bank, and centres of excellence in information management from
    the regions, to agree on the concepts and scope.
  2. A preliminary study of user-needs and a capacity analysis covering both
    the needs of the secretariats and the needs and preferences of party
    countries.
  3. Detailed user-needs study and system design, including elaboration of an
    integrated data model indicating shared data, and information flows between
    treaty secretariats and other key agencies.
  4. Development of a joint 'handbook' of common definitions and harmonised
    methods of estimating reportable information elements
  5. Building of a pilot system for decentralised data access and management,
    with functional facilities for quality control, integration, reporting and
    evaluation;
  6. Development and full implementation of a distributed inter-convention
    information system.

WCMC is currently working with the five treaty secretariats and UNEP on a
feasibility study, and will be making preliminary recommendations in February
1998 as a means for generating further review and discussion.


In the long term, it is desirable to have a broadly based network of
harmonised information systems linking not only the five principal global
biodiversity treaties, but also other environmental treaties (inter alia, FCCC,
Montreal Protocol, International Whaling Convention, International Law of the
Sea) as well the major regional treaties (e.g. Berne Convention, Cartagena
Convention, Antarctic Treaty, etc).


Other desirable characteristics include flexible linkages to global and
regional clearing houses and information repositories (such as the IUCN
Environmental Law Centre), linkages to NGO information management networks (such
as the Biodiversity Conservation Information System), and utilisation of the
harmonised network for raising international awareness and facilitating public
participation in national decision making processes.


3.4 Synergies among the Rio agreements


In March 1997, UNDP convened an expert meeting on synergies among the
conventions at Sede Bogor in Israel, which looked in particular at the four
instruments which arose from the UN Conference on Environment and Development,
which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. The four instruments are the
Convention on Biological Diversity, the Framework Convention on Climate Change,
the Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Forest Principles.


The meeting noted that the underlying challenge that parties faced in
fulfilling reporting requirements was the inadequacy of information systems
within many of the countries, particularly developing countries. Poor
information systems resulted in ad hoc reporting, and the process as a result
was more of a burden than it need be. It was agreed that information systems not
only allowed countries to have the data necessary for fulfilling reporting
obligations, but more importantly the information to better define, guide and
assess the progress being made.


Recommendations for international organisations included:



  1. The importance of developing shared reporting schedules and other ways to
    streamline reporting requirements.
  2. The need to review the information requirements of the four instruments.
  3. The importance of developing improved opportunities for capacity building
    and training for information management at the national level.

Recommendations for national agencies recognised that:



  1. It is important to develop information systems that provide information
    for analysis and use in decision making, and not merely to meet reporting
    requirements.
  2. If dataset development is well planned and co-ordinated, datasets would
    fulfil the needs of more than one of the international agreements.
  3. Sharing information about data holdings, project activities and so on
    among the various people working on the instruments in a country is a good
    first step toward more co-ordinated policy development and joint programming.

3.5 Conference of European Statisticians


The Statistical Division of the UN Economic Commission for Europe organises
an ongoing series of conferences which aim to:



  • improve national statistics and their comparability;
  • promote close co-ordination of the statistical activities in the ECE
    region, including the demands placed on national statistical offices; and
  • respond to any emerging need for international statistical co-operation.

Detailed information on the various activities undertaken by the Conference
is available in Integrated Presentation of International Statistical Work in the
ECE Region, which is regularly updated and approved by the plenary session of
the Conference. The annual plenary sessions of the Conference are attended by
heads of national statistical offices. These sessions differ from the other 25
or so meetings in the Conference's meeting programme each year, which are
attended by experts from national statistical offices and generally targeted at
specific issues.


The Conference examines the statistical programmes of ECE, the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Commission, the
International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the International Labour
Organisation, the World Health Organisation and other major international
organisations operating in the region, in order to decide on its own programme
and make suggestions to the other organisations.


4. REPORTING AND THE USE OF INDICATORS


The establishment of targets, and the use of indicators in assessing the
degree to which the targets are being met is an essential part of assessing
progress in implementation of any agreement or programme. There are various
definitions is current use, but simply put targets are measurable objectives,
indicators are summarised and synthesised information that can be used in
assessing or reporting on environmentally important issues, and benchmarks are
baseline starting points which can be used as a basis for assessing change.
Comparison of indicators and targets over time can be used in assessing
performance.


Indicator programmes tend to look at indicators of pressure on the
environment, the state of the environment, and the response taken (the so-called
PSR framework). Other programmes extend this to cover driving forces, pressure,
state, impact and response (the DPSIR framework). However indicators are
developed and grouped, their purpose is to combine information in meaningful
ways to facilitate decision making. They also provide an excellent basis for
reporting. This section provides examples of current programmes, and identifies
where further information on these and other related programmes might be
obtained.


Denisov et al (1997) also review a number of international indicator
programmes, and go on to look at their use in national State-of the Environment
reporting, particularly in the Central and Eastern European region. The
bibliography of the Denisov report is a valuable source of further information
on the available reports on the region which use environmental
statistics.


4.1 Global agreements


4.1.1 Convention on Biological Diversity


Decision III/9 of the Conference of Parties encourages all Contracting
Parties to set measurable targets in order to achieve biological diversity and
sustainable use objectives, and Decision III/10 urges Contracting Parties to
identify indicators of biological diversity. SBSTTA Recommendation II/1
recognised the importance of developing a core set of indicators for national
reports and proposed a listing of current approaches to indicator development to
be tabled at the next meeting of the SBSTTA and recommendations for a
preliminary core set of indicators of biological diversity, particularly those
related to threats..


The Global Biodiversity Forum meeting Dialogue on Biodiversity Indicators and
Implementation Targets (UN Headquarters, April 1997) was organised to discuss
and exchange information on the wide range of national-level biodiversity
indicators and targets that Contracting Parties could use as tools for setting
goals and measuring progress. Following the GBF meeting, four of the organisers
worked further on identifying more specifically how Contracting Parties could
use indicators and targets in reviewing implementation of Article 6 of the
Convention in particular (development and implementation of national strategies
and action plans).


The liaison group on biological diversity indicators reported at the third
SBSTTA meeting in September 1997. SBSTTA recommended that work on development of
an indicator programme continue, liaising as necessary with other international
processes and organisations, and taking account of the results of the Global
Biodiversity Forum, with the aim of developing a key set of standard questions
to be addressed. The Secretariat is also requested to compile principles for
designing national-level monitoring programmes and indicators. These
recommendations go forward to the COP meeting in May 1998.


Discussion is still ongoing, but the direction of the discussion can be seen
from the following papers:



  • UNEP/CBD/COP/4/2 Report of the third meeting of the SBSTTA (Recommendation
    III/5)
  • UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/3/9 Recommendations for a Core Set of Indicators on
    Biological Diversity
  • UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/3/Inf.11 Implementation of Article 7: Report of the
    Meeting of a Liaison Group on Biological Diversity Indicators
  • UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/3/Inf.13 Recommendations on a Core Set of Indicators of
    Biological Diversity: background document prepared by the liaison group
  • UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/3/Inf.14 Exploring Biodiversity Indicators and Targets
    under the CBD
  • UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/3/Inf.15 Strengthening the First Set of National Reports
    under the Convention on Biological Diversity: a discussion paper on
    indicators, targets and other types of information

4.1.2 Convention to Combat Desertification


In decisions 8/8 and 9/12 of the International Negotiating Committee, the
Interim Secretariat was requested to work on the identification of benchmarks
and indicators for monitoring implementation of the convention, and to seek
input to this through an open-ended consultative process. A report on the work
was presented to the tenth session of the International Negotiating Committee in
January 1997 (A/AC.241/INF.4), and to the Committee on Science and Technology at
the Conference of the Parties in October 1997 (ICCD/COP(1)/CST/3 and
ICCD/COP(1)/CST/3/Add.1).


Proposed indicators divide into three categories: awareness building and
identification of national priorities; national action plan formation; and
national action plan implementation. Indicators in all three categories
primarily support action at the national level, and only secondarily provide
information for national reporting. Further emphasis was given in the reports to
the need to develop good indicators of impact, both of causal factors and
actions taken.


A further critical observation concerned the importance of seeing indicators
as an aid to decision making, and not as an end in themselves. The process of
developing and testing indicators must take as a starting point a good
understanding of decision-making processes. In this regard, different
user-groups (Conference of the Parties, Regional organisations, national
organisations, natural resource users) need different sub-sets of information.


4.2 Programmes and projects


4.2.1 CSD Indicators of Sustainable Development


CSD is advocating the use of a broad-based set of indicators for monitoring
progress towards sustainable development. Social, environmental and
institutional indicators have to be taken into account, as well as the more
commonly used economic indicators, in order to achieve a broader, more complete
picture of societal development. As part of the implementation of the work
programme on Indicators of Sustainable Development, adopted by Commission on
Sustainable Development in April 1995, a working list of 134 indicators and
related methodology sheets has been developed and made available for voluntary
testing at the national level. The aim of CSD is to have an agreed set of
indicators available for all countries to use by the year 2000.


The approach is described in a CSD paper Indicators of Sustainable
Development (ISD) Progress from Theory to Practice published in May 1997, which
is available on the CSD web site . Various countries have since tested the
methodology, and provided comment (also available on the website).


4.2.2 Inventory of European environmental targets and
review of sustainability goals


The European Environment Agency has recently launched a study aimed at
producing a coherent and comprehensive inventory of all current (inter)national
policy targets and sustainability goals with the following two objectives:



  1. Supporting the policy process. Target setting is one of the key features
    of modern green planning, such as the 1992 Fifth EC Environmental Action
    Programme Towards Sustainability. For most of the themes and target sectors,
    this programme presents tables setting out policy objectives, indicative
    targets up to the year 2000, the instruments and timetables for achieving the
    targets and the key sectors from whom action is required. The inventory might
    be used to evaluate the current intermediate targets on the road towards
    sustainability, and as a resource for developing for new targets in the
    follow-up to the fifth action programme.
  2. Assessing the significance of trends and evaluating the progress of
    current policies. Information is required on the endorsed policy targets and
    (sustainable) threshold and reference values against which trends can be
    compared. This information is required for Agency's reports, but might also be
    used by other organisations such as national agencies, universities and
    interest groups.

This is reported on further in the EEA Newsletter issue 12, March 1997, from
where this description is taken.


4.2.3 OECD Environmental Indicators Programme


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has
established a two-year cycle of environmental data collection, treatment,
quality assurance and publication, to support the OECD environmental performance
review process. This process was established following an agreement of the
environment ministers of OECD countries at their meeting in January 1991
(Council Recommendation on Environmental Indicators and Information). The work
programme includes not only a core set of environmental indicators, but also
indicators for integration of environment into other sectors, and environmental
accounting. The work programme has resulted in the development of a
specification of a framework and terminology, definition of indicators,
measurement of indicators, and use of indicators in performance reviews. Various
OECD reports describe the indicators and the review process (see sources
section) copies of which are obtainable on the OECD website .


The five Nordic countries have developed Indicators of the State of the
Environment in Nordic Countries (Nordic Council of Ministers, 1997), building on
the OECD core set (with some adjustments to meet certain special conditions in
the Nordic Countries). This report was prepared as a result of a Nordic Council
of Ministers' decision that the state of the Nordic environment would be
reported on at regular intervals as part of The Nordic Strategy for the
Environment 1996-2000, and the approach used may have lessons for other
regions.


5. INTERNATIONAL EFFORT TO INCREASE ACCESS TO
INFORMATION


This section deals with three related issues, the development of
metadatabases and clearing houses that facilitate access to information, the
development of networks of professionals in particular fields that work to
increase the level and quality of the information available, and the development
of organisations that specialise in increasing access to information. In all
three cases the primary focus is on better use of the information that is
already available, rather than on development of new information. The coverage
of each of these sections is not intended to be comprehensive, but serves to
illustrate the types of programmes that exist.


5.1 Metadatabases and clearing houses


5.1.1 CBD Clearing-house Mechanism


One of the primary aims of the Convention on Biological Diversity is
promotion of international technical and scientific co-operation in the field of
conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and one of the primary
tools for achieving this is intended to be the Clearing-house Mechanism (CHM).
At its second meeting, the Conference of the Parties decided that the CHM should
be developed starting with a pilot phase for 1996-1997 (Decision II/3), and
decided to review the implementation of the pilot phase at its third meeting. In
Decision III/4, the Conference of the Parties decided that the pilot phase
should be extended until December 1998.


It is anticipated that the CHM will be implemented as an inter-connected and
inter-related series of national and thematic clearing houses, each of which
will facilitate access to particular categories of information. The CHM will
therefore not be a mechanism for collecting information, but a means for better
location of information. Development of national CHM nodes will be supported by
the Secretariat and other existing CHM nodes, and some GEF funding is allocated
to this task. In order to familiarise those involved with the CBD with the
potential for information service development, the CHM co-ordinator has
organised workshops and an 'Internet Café' at successive CBD and SBSTTA
meetings.


The CBD Secretariat has taken advice on clearing house development and needs
from a range of sources, is currently discussing implementation with various
national and international bodies, and is looking at the potential structure,
content and the capacity building programmes required for full implementation.
This is being discussed in a series of regional meetings. For more information
on the CBD Clearing House Mechanism, including reports of meetings, concept
papers and links to national implementation, refer to the CHM web site at .


5.1.2 Environment and Natural Resources Management
(ENRM) project


The Environment and Natural Resources Management (ENRM) project is one of 11
Global Information Society projects developed at the Brussels Conference of
Information Ministers in February 1995. The participating organisations of the
ENRM project are all contributing to the development of a prototype
metadatabase/virtual library, the Global Environmental Information Locator
Service (GELOS), the purpose of which is to:



  • improve links between catalogues and directories world-wide;
  • ensure their accessibility from within developed and developing countries
    alike;
  • facilitate the exchange and integration of data and information about the
    Earth for world-wide use.

The Global Information Locator Service adopts an established international
standard for information searching. This standard, ISO 10163 or ANSI Z39.50, was
developed primarily in the library and information services communities. It
specifies how to express search and return results in all languages. It does not
specify how network servers manage records or how clients use records. By
adopting this standard, the Global Information Locator Service builds on a vast
array of existing resources, and takes advantage of existing software. While it
leverages common practice, the standard does not enforce any particular format.
More information on these related projects can be found on the ENRM web server
at , and the US Geological Survey website .


The Environment and Natural Resources Management Project adopted the US
Government Information Locator Service as a model for the Global Information
Locator Service. United States law and policy establish the Government
Information Locator Service at the Federal level. Adoption of this approach by
other nations, regional organisations, and state governments is well underway.
More information on the Government Information Locator Service can be found on
their website at .


5.1.3 EEA Catalogue of Data Sources


EEA European Topic Centre Catalogue of Data Sources was established in order
to provide information on who has what information in Europe, in what form, and
where, and how to get access to it. In other words, the CDS provides
meta-information to the users of environmental information and data, helping
them to locate and retrieve relevant sources. T