Reporting Requirements and Information Systems-
Synergies Between the Conventions on Biological Diversity,
Climate Change and Desertification and the Forest Principles
World Resources Institute
2. The Reporting Burden
3. Convention on Biological Diversity
5. Framework Convention on Climate Change
6. Convention to Combat Desertification and
7. Forest Principles
8. Agenda 21
9. Analysis of Synergies and Overlap in the
Implementation and Reporting
10. Current Streamlining Activities
A) Opportunities for Streamlining
the Reporting Process
B) Reporting on Forests
C) Investments in Information
D) Information Sharing and
E ) Improved Coordination
Throughout the Policy Development Process
Appendix A - Abbreviations Used in this Report
During the United Nations Conference on Environment
and Development (UNCED) in 1992, two global conventions were opened for
signature and Agenda 21 was formalized. Since then many countries
have expressed concern over the increasing number of national reports they
are required to submit in compliance with these conventions and other international
agreements. The benefits of reporting are many. The reporting process results
in increased awareness regarding environmental and social conditions within
countries and to improved and more coordinated environmental strategy development,
both at the national and international levels. Despite these valuable benefits,
reporting is a financial and administrative burden for each country that
must provide information, and is particularly difficult for countries with
limited environmental information capacity.
This discussion document examines the reporting
requirements of the Conventions on Biological Diversity, Climate Change,
and Desertification and the non-binding agreement on Forest Principles.
The goal is to identify redundancies in requirements related to the implementation
of these conventions and to determine common data needs for policy development
in these areas.
The analysis is based on literature review,
interviews with experts on each of the conventions, Forest Principles and
Agenda 21, and a survey of public information on the Worldwide Web
(WWW). Additionally, the paper draws on individual country reports and
responses to reporting requirements. This information was synthesized and
redundant data requirements and common information needs were identified.
The following section presents reporting requirements
of the individual conventions, Forest Principles, and Agenda 21
are presented individually, followed by an analysis of the redundancies,
a description of current activities related to streamlining information
requirements, and some recommendations for efficiency improvements. This
discussion paper addresses both reporting related to implementation of
the instruments and data needs for policy development.
Most countries have prepared at least one
report on its environment. These reports range from basic data on environmental
conditions and trends, to an assessment of problems and development of
strategies for addressing these issues. In the past few years, environmental
reporting has become an essential policy instrument used by governments
and private organizations to heighten public awareness, inform policy-makers
and citizens of emerging and long-neglected problems, strengthen national
and regional research and monitoring capacities, and hold institutions
accountable for implementing policies and practices (WRI et al.,
National reporting on the environment is driven
by a wide range of international agreements and results in an array of
types of national reports, including Agenda 21 National Reports;
Environmental Strategies and Action Plans; State of the Environment Reports;
National Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Forestry Assessments, Strategies
and Action Plans; and UNCED National Reports.
The rate of national reporting is on the rise
as a result of the requirements of many international agreements, conditions
related to securing funding from donors, increased concern about global
and national environmental problems, and out of a desire for more coordinated,
targeted and effective national strategies . In 1996, a collaboration of
WRI, IIED and IUCN released the third edition of a summary of national
environmental studies. Of the 414 reports included, two-thirds were published
in 1993 or later (WRI et al., 1996a.)
Of the 208 countries and regions included
in the report:
55 produced Agenda 21 National Reports
61 produced Agenda 21 National Reports
89 produced National Biodiversity Assessments,
Strategies and Action Plans
21 produced Climate Change Assessments, Strategies,
and Action Plans
48 produced Forestry Assessments, Strategies
and Action Plans
100 produced Environmental Strategies and
86 produced State of the Environment Reports
157 produced UNCED National Reports
Examination of this report reveals some patterns
with regard to national reporting. Countries do not tend to submit both
Agenda 21 reports and national Biodiversity plans. 71 countries
have submitted reports under Agenda 21, 89 countries have prepared
national Biodiversity Assessments, Strategies or Action Plans, while only
39 have done both (WRI et al., 1996a).
on Biological Diversity
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),
opened for signature at UNCED in 1992, came into force in December 1993.
Over 166 countries have signed the Convention, making it one of the most
broadly supported international environmental agreements. The Convention's
three objectives are the conservation of Biodiversity, the sustainable
use of its components, and the equitable sharing of benefits from the use
of genetic resources.
The CBD is one of a family of
international environmental agreements related to Biodiversity. Other agreements
include the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance,
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) , the
Migratory Bird Convention, regional conservation conventions, and numerous
regional fisheries conventions.
Reporting Requirements under
Article 26 of the CBD addresses
" 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."
(CBD, Article 26).
Reporting focuses on the implementation of the convention,
rather than the status of biota. Initially, reporting will emphasize Article
6, General Measures for Conservation and Sustainable Use, which
requires (a) the development of national strategies, plans or programmes
or adaption of existing plans for the conservation and sustainable use
of biological diversity to address the provisions of the convention; and
(b) the integration of the conservation and sustainable use of biological
diversity into relevant sectoral or crosssectoral plans, programmes
and policies (Glowka et al., 1994). The first national reports will be
due at the fourth meeting of the COP in 1998 and shall use the "Suggested
Guidelines for National Reporting on the Implementation of Article 6"
as contained in Decision II/17 of the COP 2. These guidelines
are summin Box 1 below.
In the future, it is likely that Article 7, Identification
and Monitoring, will also have related reporting requirements. Article
7 calls for an inventory of species, genetic materia, and habitats, monitoring
of adverse impacts on biological diversity, and establishment of information
management systems for the above information (WRI, 1995). Reporting on
biological resources is not currently required.
The need to formulate or develop national biodiversity
studies strategies and action plans has also been stressed in Chapter 15
of Agenda 21 which calls on governments to develop "new
or strengthen existing strategies, plans or programmes of action for the
use of biological resources, taking account of education and training needs"
and "to undertake country studies or other methods to identify
components of biological diversity important for its conservation and sustainable
To date more than 148 countries and the European Commission
have ratified the CBD and are in the process of adapting or developing
measures, strategies, programmes or plans to implement the Convention.
Activities toward this goal are at different stages of development in each
country. Progress depends on existing infrastructure such as national legal
instruments, policies, institutional arrangements, information, trained
personnel and available funding (www.unep.ch/bio/nbsap.html).
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the interim financial
mechanism for the CBD. In addition to funding projects aimed directly at
the conservation of biological diversity, the GEF funds "enabling
activities," which prepare the foundation for design and implementation
of effective response measures. These include helping recipient countries
to develop national strategies, plans and programs, perform inventories,
and prepare national communications to the CBD (GEF, 1996). To date, 55
countries are approved and 20 countries are in process for funds for enabling
activities related to biodiversity (personal communication, GEF).
In light of the extensive range of international agreements
related to biological diversity and the fact that specific biodiversity
indicators and implementation targets have not yet been specified by the
COP, an effort to identify such indicators has developed out of the Global
Biodiversity Forum (GBF). In April 1997 the GBF will host a meeting in
New York on biodiversity indicators and implementation targets which will
examine and evaluate biodiversity indicators in general and in light of
their value to the implementation of the CBD.
Box 1- Suggested Guidelines for National Reporting on the
Implementation of Article 6
(as contained in Decision II/17 of the COP 2 - UNEP/CBD/COP/2/19.
Supplements to these guidelines were proposed at COP
The national report to the COP should contain:
· a brief summary of
the biodiversity action plan report and its strategic recommendations
· a description of why
biodiversity is important to the country
· an explanation of
the country's commitment to the provisions of the convention
· a description of the
aims and objectives of the NBAP
· a description of the
legal and policy framework that provides the mandate and instructions for
preparation of the action plan report
· a short summary of
the nation's biotic assets, protection capacity and ongoing programs
· an explanation of
institutional arrangements, with a view to informing people of the manner
in which the strategic recommendations will be implemented
· a statement of the
vision for biodiversity, its place in society, and on the equitable sharing
of the benefits and costs
· a summary of the gaps
between the current situation in the country and the stated vision, goals
and objectives, including a summary of strategic recommendations, activities
and policies and tasks that have been selected to cover the gaps
· list public and private
partners in the process
· a presentation of
the detailed activities, tasks and policies to be implemented, and related
· a timetable for implementation
of the various tasks, and , where possible, noting signposts to help signal
progress or delay
· a budget for the plan
· a plan for tracking
the results of the action plan and for monitoring changes in the economy,
environment and society. (Suggested indicators should be provided.)
Data Needs for Policy Development and Analysis
The current reporting requirements under the CBD focus
on implementation of Article 6. This information is valuable for the evaluation
of institutional, legislative and capacity-related issues. However, a broader
base of information is required for developing, evaluating and prioritizing
strategies and policy options for the conservation of biological diversity.
There are many base (core) data sets which are fundamental to assessment
of biological resources and pressures on these resources, many of which
are also valuable for analysis related to the other conventions. Some of
these base data layers relevant for biological diversity are listed in
Box 2. These data sets are geographic in nature, so inherent in them is
information on location and area of each feature.
2- Some Core Data Sets for Biological Diversity
· vegetation type
· forest type (with
information on characteristics such as density)
· climate (temperature,
· topography (elevation,
· surface hydrology
(lakes, rivers, streams)
· soil type
· flora and fauna (species
type and density information)
· endangered species
· protected areas (by
type and status)
· other infrastructure
(transmission lines, etc.)
· human settlements
· indigenous peoples
· population (count
5. Framework Convention on Climate
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(FCCC) was opened for signature at the 1992 UNCED meeting. By June 1993,
when the treaty was closed for signature, 165 states (plus the EU) had
signed. To date, it has been ratified by 145 countries (www.unfccc.de/index.html).
The Convention establishes specific obligations for particular
categories of states. It distinguishes between members of the OECD, countries
in transition to a market economy, and developing countries. OECD countries
and countries in transition to a market economy are listed as "Annex
I Parties." The Convention requires OECD countries to take the strongest
measures, while the states in transition to a market economy are allowed
a certain flexibility. The Convention recognizes that compliance by developing
countries will depend on financial and technical assistance from developed
countries. In addition, the needs of least developed countries and those
that are particularly vulnerable to climate change for geographical reasons
are given special consideration (www.unep.ch/iuc/fs250).
Article 12 of the FCCC, Communication of Information
Related to Implementation, establishes reporting requirements, but
draws a distinction between requirements for Annex I Parties (OECD and
Parties with Economies in Transition) and Non-Annex I Parties:
Annex I Parties were required to submit their first
national communication by April of 1994, with the second national communication
due by April of 1997. The national communications include detailed information
on national circumstances (optional), greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories,
mitigation policies and measures, emission projections including the country's
energy consumption, energy intensity ratios, and per capita GHG emission
ratios. Reporting is based upon guidelines adopted by the COP and IPCC
- See Box 3 below.
Non-Annex I Parties are required to submit their
report within three years of accession. Least developed countries will
submit at their discretion. The first Non-Annex 1 reports are expected
beginning April 1997. Reporting is based upon guidelines adopted by the
COP. Non-Annex 1 Parties should provide a national inventory of estimates
of anthropogenic emisby sources and removals by sinks of all greenhouse
gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, a general description of
steps taken or envisaged towards FCCC goals, and any other relevant information.
3- Guidelines for Preparation of Communications by Annex I Parties
(from UN FCCC Guidelines,March, 1994)
1) a description of the full range of actions to implement
2) an inventory of all anthropogenic emissions and removals
of all greenhouse gases not covered by the Montreal Protocol, and
3) a qualitative discussion of uncertainty in data and
Within the first national communications, Annex I parties
were required to report on CO2, CH4 and N2O,
and encouraged to report on other GHGs (PFCs, HFCs, SF6) and precursor
gases (CO, NOX, and VOCs). Parties are now expected to report
on all six of the listed GHGs, and are still encouraged to report on precursor
Inventory data should be presented:
· on a gas-by-gas basic,
· with emissions and
removals listed separately,
· with a base year of
· by sector (energy,
industry, agriculture, forestry and other)
The use of IPCC Guidelines for reporting is encouraged.
Other Basic Data
National communications may also include basic
data reflecting "National Circumstances, " including: data on
· population - (growth
rates, population density and distribution, GHG emission per capita)
· geography - (area
by land use)
· climate - (temperature,
precipitation, heating and cooling degree days)
· the economy - (GDP
per capita, growth rates, GDP by sector, GHG emissions per GDP)
· the energy sector
- (energy prices, energy taxes, energy subsidies, vehicle taxes, energy
consumption by sector and fuel type)
· a social profile -
(literacy rate, average dwelling size, vehicles per capita, and personal
freight traffic by mode)
Extensive data reporting is required under the FCCC. Key
components include the inventory of GHG emissions and removals by gas and
sector, the description of policies and measures implemented to reduce
GHG emissions by gas and sector, and the optional background data section,
The first national communications by Annex 1 Parties were
submitted in 1994. Parties tended to provide good coverage on GHG emissions
for the six main GHGs listed above. Only a few parties, however, provided
inventory data for removals of CO2 by sinks. The land use change
and forestry source category was problematic in many cases. Scientific
uncertainties and difficulties in data collection gave rise to low confidence
in the figures and led to a lack of comparability among countries (FCCC/SBSTA/1996/3).
The GEF is also designated as the interim funding mechanism
for the FCCC. GEF funds enabling activities to support the preparation
of national communications to the FCCC. At present 97 countries are either
partial or fully approved for enabling activities (personal communication,
Data Needs for Policy Development and Analysis
It is important to note that emissions and removals of
CO2 through land use change and forestry are treated separately
from other sectors. In order to evaluate changes in CO2 sequestration
within this sector, reliable and detailed data sets are required reflecting
land use and forest by type and biomass density. Box 4 reflects some of
these data sets.
4- Some Core Data Sets for Climate Change
· population (count
· power transmission
· power generation facilities
(by type, capacity)
· forest type (with
information on characteristics such as biomass density estimate)
· climate (temperature,
· agricultural lands
· fertilizer use
· human settlements
6. Convention to
Combat Desertification and Drought
The Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries
Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa
(CCD) was opened for signature in 1994. As of January 15, 1997, 115 countries
had signed and 62 had ratified the convention (www.unep.ch/incd.html).
The CCD calls upon each party to establish national strategies
and action programmes and to file reports on the implementation of the
Convention with the COP. Article 26, Communication of Information,
distinguishes reporting requirements for "Affected Country Parties"
and "Developed Country Parties." Affected Country Parties are
required to provide a description of the strategies established and of
any relevant information on their implementation. Groups of Affected Country
Parties are permitted to make joint communications on measures taken at
the subregional and/or regional levels. Developed Country Parties are required
to report on measures taken to assist in the preparation and implementation
of action programmes, including information on the financial resources
they have provided, or are providing, under the Convention. Details of
reporting requirements will be determined at COP 1 in September of 1997.
At present, no definitive list of indicators have been
proposed to monitor implementation of the convention or biophysical and
socioeconomic conditions on the ground. Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental
Negotiating Committee for the Elaboration of an International CCD (INCD)
met and reported on ongoing work on benchmarks and indicators (UN/INCD
-- A/AC.241/Inf.4). The report encourages selection of only a limited number
of indicators, focused on the problems related to implementation of the
convention, and encourages a hierarchical, decentralized, "bottom-up"
approach to indicators. This recognizes the need for some indicators tailored
to local situations, in addition to a standardized minimum set of indicators
for worldwide reporting (see Box 5 for sample indicators).
5- Sample Proposed Indicators for CCD Implementation
· Functional National
Coordination Unit established (status, resources, etc.)
· Effective participation
of actors involved in defining national priorities (methods, representativeness,
· Effective support
from international partners (degree of participation of developed countries
and international organizations, resources available, etc.)
· Institutional framework
for coherent and functional desertification control (measures identified
· National Action Plans
as part of the National Economic and Social Development Process (coherence
with other strategic frameworks)
· Coherent and functional
legal and regulatory framework
· Measures adopted to
facilitate access by local actors to funding
· Functional mechanisms
for monitoring and evaluation of desertification established
· Implementation of
inventory and adaption projects
The CCD has linkages to the other conventions, and to
broader sustainable management issues. It recommends that countries incorporate
their plans related to desertification and drought into their broader sustainable
development strategies and action plans. The CCD has cross-linking references
to the contribution that combating deforestation can make to achieving
the objectives of the climate and biodiversity conventions and it encourages
Data Needs for Policy Development and Analysis
Closely related to the CCD, Chapter 12 of Agenda 21
encourages a land-condition-based prioritization focusing on implementation
of preventive measures for lands that are not yet degraded or which are
only slightly degraded. However, severely degraded areas should not be
neglected. Programme elements include:
· strengthening the
knowledge base and developing information and monitoring systems for regions
prone to desertification and drought, including the economic and social
aspects of these ecosystems;
· combating land degradation
through, inter alia, intensified soil conservation, afforestation and reforestation
· developingand strengthening
integrated development programmes for the eradication of poverty and promotion
of alternative livelihood systems in areas prone to desertification
The geographic data sets relevant to evaluating and combating
desertification have much in common with the data sets listed for analysis
of biodiversity and climate. For desertification assessment, there is increased
emphasis on agricultural activities and social and economic conditio. While
the other conventions tend to be global in coverage, it is worth noting
that the CCD only applies to dryland areas. A comparison of the data needs
for all four of the instruments is presented later, in Section 9.
7. Forest Principles
Two major UNCED agreements, the CBD and the FCCC, recognize
the broader role that forests play in the maintenance of global ecosystems.
Global forests, as a significant repository for carbon, are a subject of
the Climate Convention, while forests, as a haven for many of the world's
species (and many at greatest risk) are a subject of the Biodiversity Convention.
While there have been proposals to expand the CBD to address
forest loss, there is still no consensus among the signatory countries.
Under the Climate Convention, forests have become a major factor in joint
implementation agreements because of their important role in regulating
the Earth's temperature. Under both conventions, nations are likely to
continue to develop potential mechanisms to support forest-related activities
over the next several years (WRI et al., 1996b).
Forest Principles is nonlegally binding and there
are no formal reporting requirements. Forest Principle 2c relates to information
provision, "The provision of timely, reliable and accurate information
on forests and forest ecosystems is essential for public understanding
and informed decision-making and should be ensured." This principle
is supported by Forest Principle 12 which relates to the strengthening
of institutions for assessment and management of forests.
Although there is not, at this time, a requirement for
national reporting, there is on-going research and discussion related to
the development of methods to evaluate the sustainablity of forest management
practices. One area of growing consensus regarding forest monitoring relates
to the development of criteria and indicators for the sustainable management
of forests. In 1990, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO)
became the first intergovernmental body to produce criteria and guidelines
for the sustainable management of tropical forests. ITTO established "Target
2000", a goal that by the year 2000, all forest products should come
from sustainably managed forests (WRI et al., 1996b).
Following the International Tropical Timber Agreement,
renegotiated in 1994, three separate processes emerged that cover a broad
range of general guidelines for the sustainable management of forests.
Two focus on boreal and temperate forests - the Pan-European Helsinki process,
and the non-European Montreal process. One focuses on tropical forests
- the Tarapoto Declaration of the Amazon Treaty Organization regarding
Amazon forests. Similar processes are underway for Central America and
Africa (WRI et al., 1996b).
By the third session of the CSD, it became apparent that
there was a need for an inter-governmental forum to focus on the priority
issues related to forests. The CSD established an "Open-ended ad hoc
Intergovernmental Panel on Forests" (IPF) for this purpose (gopher.un.org:7.esc/cn17/ipf/ipf.fly.txt).
Although a priority of the IPF is to develop criteria and indicators, not
much progress has been made in this area due to the consuming an divided
debate on the need for a global convention on forests.
Data Needs for Policy Development and Analysis related
As the extent, condition and contents of forests are central
to both the CBD and the FCCC, there are many recurring core data sets.
Table 1 in Section 9 presents a comparison of data needs for the four instruments.
8. Agenda 21
117 National Councils for Sustainable Development were
established by countries to help plan and implement Agenda 21, the
international plan of action agreed to at UNCED in 1992 (WRI et al, 1996).
In Agenda 21, each country agreed in principle to develop a "national
strategy for sustainable development" to "ensure socially
responsible economic development while protecting the resource base and
Of the forty chapters of Agenda 21, the four with
the greatest relevance to the three conventions and Forest Principles are:
Chapter 9 Protection of the Atmosphere
Chapter 11 Combating Deforestation
Chapter 12 Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Combating Desertification
Chapter 15 Conservation of Biological Diversity
These chapters of Agenda 21 are closely related
to and support the three conventions and Forest Principles. As such, information
reported under Agenda 21 is in essence a high-level summary of a
country's's progress toward sustainable development. Countries implementing
Agenda 21 were expected to do annual reports on implementation every
year beginning in 1994. "Country Profiles" are currently being
prepared by the Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development
(DPCSD) on behalf of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), largely
based on national Agenda 21 reports, and assembled UN statistics.
These will soon be available on the CSD homepage. See Box 6 for details
of information in Country Profiles.
6- Relevant Information Contents of Country Profiles
The country profile report for each of chapters 9, 11,
12 and 15 allows for summaries of implementation issues, relevant agencies
and structures responsible for decision making, capacity building and technology
issues, financial support and expenditures and for reference to other national
reports related to the specific chapter. Additionally:
Chapter 9 - Protection of the Atmosphere - Country
profiles for Chapter 9 provide summary information on international agreement
signing for both ozone-depleting substances and for climate, including
the year of the latest report to the Montreal Protocol and FCCC Secretariats.
A limited number of statistical indicators are provided reflecting estimated
emissions of GHG (CO2 and CH4), with regard to change
over time (for 1980, 1990, and the most recent year available.)
Chapter 11 - Combating Deforestation - Country
profiles for this chapter provide a summary of the status of forest resources.
Statistical indicators include forest area and protected forest area, deforestation
rate and reforestation rate, and roundwood production.
Chapter 12 - Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Combating
Desertification and Drought - Country profiles for this chapter established
whether the country is a signatory to the CCD and the year of the latest
report to the convention. The only statistical indicator provided is the
area of land affected by desertification, with estimates for 1980, 1990
and the most recent year available.
Chapter 15 - Conservation of Biological Diversity
- The country profiles for Chapter 15 establish participation (signing
and year of last report) for the CBD and CITES. Statistical indicators
include protected area as a percentage of total land area and number of
9. Analysis of Synergies
and Overlap in the Reporting Requirements
An analysis of the overlap in reporting requirements should
focus both on current requirements and on anticipated needs. Currently,
the CBD requires reporting on activities and structures related to implementation
of the convention, but will eventually require reporting on biota. The
FCCC requires reporting on GHG inventories, land use / forest inventories,
projections on emissions and sequestration, in addition to activities related
to implementation of the convention. The CCD, which has not yet formalized
reporting requirements, wimost likely require reports on physical and socioeconomic
conditions in dryland areas, in addition to activities to implement the
convention. The Forest Principles does not currently, and may never, have
any requirements for national reporting.
The discussion of information overlap will be divided
into two areas - reporting related to implementation and common core data
Implementation and ReportingImplementation and
Activities related to implementation of the three conventions
have several general common areas, but are to a large extent unique. In
their most simforms, the CBD is concerned with measures to protect species,
habitats and genetic resources, encouraging and governing the exploration
and use of genetic resources, and equitable and wise resource use. The
FCCC is concerned with improving efficiency and reducing GHG emissions
from the energy, transport and industrial sectors, as well as from land
use change. The CCD is concerned with the socioeconomic conditions, land
use and associated risk of desertification in dryland areas of the world.
There are four main areas of overlap among the conventions,
two of which are physical in nature, while two are institutional. The first
institutional issue is that there are many common information / data needs
for effective policy formulation, and this information often becomes a
part of the reporting to the COPs. This issue will be addressed below,
under "Common Data."
The second institutional issue relates to planning and
implementation. In reporting to the COP, the Parties are reporting, inter
alia, on implementation of action plans and particular activities aimed
at conservation, mitigation, institutional strengthening, and improving
efficiency. These activities might be part of a broad sustainable development
or environmental action plan developed with a full range of environmental
and sustainable development goals in mind. Or, these activities might be
derived from wholly separate (perhaps isolated) ministries and agencies
working specifically on a forestry, biodiversity, desertification, or climate
change action plan.
· There are greater
opportunities for synergy in programs, efficiencies in program implementation
and reporting, and better balance and coverage with regard to the range
of environmental objectives, if strategies and action plans for each of
the instruments developed with greater coordination from the beginning.
Regarding the physical areas of overlap under the instruments,
there are two main areas. One is the role of forests - forests as biotic
resources and havens for species, as sinks for carbon, as a stabilizer
of local climate and soils, and as an economic resource. The second major
area of overlap relates to the potential effects of climate on dryland
areas and on biotic resources in general.
· The greatest opportunity
for synergistic reporting relates to information about the resource base
-- the status and trends of forests and land use. National forestry programs
have tremendous implications related to the conservation of biological
diversity, the mitigation of CO2 emissions, and for forests
as a renewable natural resource and source of livelihood.
All four instruments which are the subject of this document
acknowledge this linkage. Although there is text in each about the linkage,
it is not clear how much collaboration actually takes place among groups
responsible for each of the instruments. How much sharing of core data
sets occurs? How much sharing of human resources? How much collaboration
on the development of indicators meaningful to more than one instrument?
How much joint policy development?
· Forests need to be
treated holistically as a vital resource for local and national well-being,
as a biologically diverse resource, and as a sink for carbon.
Climate is a primary factor controlling the distribution
of biota, including forests and the potential for agricultural production.
Potential climate change effects have profound implications for the biological
resources which are the subject of each of the instruments. These resources
are also relevant as a potential source of GHG emissions and sink for carbon.
They are inextricably linked.
· This points to the
need for coordination in the development of monitoring programs. In particular,
inter-ministerial coordination is essential.
In many countries, responsibilities for the protection
of biological diversity might be spread across many agencies. One might
be responsible for protected areas management, one for forests, and another
for endangered species. Once again, interagency coordination on resource
planning, development of common, useful indicators is essential to improving
efficiency in planning and reporting.
Common Data Common Data
There are two general areas of common data sets - national
profile data and core geographic data sets.
a) National Profile Data) National Profile Data
The FCCC made optional the provision of an extensive set
of national background data which is relevant to the country's current
and future emissions of GHG and land use change. Similar background information
is important to the evaluation of current activities and stresses in dryland
areas (under CCD) and to the evaluation of the value of and stresses on
biological diversity. A substantial amount of basic national profile data
is reported under Agenda 21.
There is a good opportunity for harmonization of efforts
and efficiency improvements in this area. Current efforts in this area
are described in Section 10.
b) Core Geographic Data Sets) Core Geographic Data
The second area of great potential for data sharing relates
to core geographic data sets for policy development and analysis. Table
1 reflects suggested core data set needs to support each of the instruments.
Most of these data sets are critical to several of the instruments. In
particular, information on land use, vegetation, forests, soils, climate,
hydrology, population and settlements, and roads and other infrastructure
is required by at least three of the four instruments.
|Table 1 - Core Data Set
|land use (by type)
|vegetation (by type)
|forests (by type, condition,
|forest production and export
|soils (by type)
|agriculture (by type)
|climate (temperature, precipitation,
|topography (elevation, slope,
|surface hydrology (lakes,
|estimate of areas' risk
|flora and fauna (species
type and density info)
|endangered species habitat
|protected areas (by type
|indigenous peoples homelands
|population (count and density)
|other infrastructure (transmission
|power transmission lines
|power generation facilities
(by type, capacity)
Coarse, often out-of-date, geographic data sets exist
for many of these themes for the whole world. However, these are not of
adequate quality to serve as the basis for policy analysis.
· Investment in information
management infrastructure and in geographic data set development in countries
where human, technological, facility and financial capacity and data are
currently lacking could be an efficient and complementary means of promoting
implementation of the three conventions and forest principles.
10. Current Streamlining
Streamlining of National Reporting Requirements is being
considered by the IACSD, the CSD, and the UN Economic and Social Council
(ECOSOC). The IACSD, for example, has concluded that "possibilities
for streamlining the process exist, particularly in the area of identifying
and simplifying requests, and the information available could be used in
a more effectivemanner" (Draft report to IACSD).
In July, 1996, the IACSD "endorsed the proposal
that streamlining, at this stage, should be pursued by seeking a division
of labor between the content of the reporting to the CSD and the reporting
the conventions and agencies. Through this process, the Country Profiles
being prepared for the CSD would become a first access document containing
general institutional and macro-economic information with cross references
and linkages to other data bases holding more specific information collected
by the conventions and organizations of the UN systems. Moreover, countries
would be encouraged to indicate to whom they had already reported certain
information. This process will eventually require common core data se,
computerization of the country profiles and mutually accessible data bases."
In December 1996, the UN Division for Sustainable Development
(DPCSD) convened a meeting on streamlining of national reports in preparation
for the fifth session of the CSD which is scheduled for April 1997. Among
the conclusions of this meeting, the following are relevant to this discussion
· Information with relevance
to Agenda 21 would be shared in such a manner that governments would
not be requested to provide the information to more than one UN organization
or convention secretariat.
· Information mandated
from legally-binding instruments as well as by decisions and resolutions
of intergovernmental bodies will continue to be provided to the respective
convention secretariats. The respective secretariats will make this information
available, as appropriate for Agenda 21.
· Organizations that
have not yet done so will move toward making their information available
electronically, on a country-by-country basis.
· Country profiles being
prepared by the DPCSD on behalf of the CSD should serve as a basis for
streamlined socioeconomic information of relevance to sustainable development,
in cooperation with the UN Statistics Division / DESIPA, by linking with
the relevant databases for the UN System (Draft IACSD).
Streamlining of biodiversity-related instruments is the
subject of several initiatives. The Global Biodiversity Forum / BIONET
initiative was described earlier. UNEP convened a meeting addressing the
overlap amongst international agreements concerning biodiversity. As a
result, WCMC is being commissioned to perform this analysis. There is an
opportunity to tie these initiatives to the broader process of identifying
indicators which would be useful to the other conventions as well.
A) Opportunities for Streamlining the Reporting ProcessA)
Opportunities for Streamlining the Reporting Process
Currently, there are redundancies in the reporting requirements
for each of the conventions and Agenda 21. This leads to an inefficient
use of the often scarce resources available for environmental information
management and reporting.
· The redundancies between
reporting requirements under Agenda 21 and the conventions must
be dealt with. Coordination of the timing of reports is essential. If reporting
deadlines are out of phase, an additional reporting burden could result.
· The redundancies between
Agenda 21 and the conventions can be dealt with in one of three
ways: (1) CSD Primary - If Agenda 21 reports continue to be a requirement
of the CSD, these could serve as the main source of country profile data,
with pointers to more detailed data when available; (2) Joint Primary -
General background (country profile) information could be provided to CSD,
while actions specific to the conventions would be reported to the convention
secretariat only; (3) Secretariat Primary - Reporting to relevant secretariats
could serve as the main vehicle for reporting, with this information being
forwarded to the CSD. The merits of these three approaches need to be evaluated.
· Reports to the conventions
need to be kept at a sensible level so that countries are able to accommodate
requirements, but also need to include adequate and useful information
for evaluation of progress toward implementation of the conventions. Development
of a more standardized reporting framework would reduce the burden of provision
of the same information to more than one organization / secretariat. In
order to develop a standardized reporting framework, it is essential to
identify the information which is most useful to the secretariats for evaluation
of convention implementation and progress and to define in what form this
information is required. This is fundamental to streamlining reporting
requirements and harmonizing efforts.
B) Reporting on Forests B) Reporting on Forests
Forests resources are the subject of each of the four
instruments examined in this paper. National forestry programs have tremendous
implications related to the conservation of biological diversity, the mitigation
of CO2 emissions, and for forests as a renewable natural resource
and source of livelihood.
· There are great opportunities
for synergistic reporting and policy development in the area of forest
resources. Forests should be treated holistically as a vital economic resource,
as a biologically diverse resource, and as a sink for carbon. Sharing data
on forest status and trends and coordinated reporting on forests should
be priority areas of any effort at streamlining.
C) Investments in Information Management Capacity C)
Investments in Information Management Capacity
Reporting does not occur with any degree of consistency.
Many reporting requirements are not fulfilled, and reports are frequently
submitted late, incomplete, or not at all (GAO, 1992.) This is often the
result of a lack of financial and technical resources within the relevant
ministry or organization.
· There is a need to
build a national capacity for environmental information management in many
countries in order to improve the reporting process.
D) Information Sharing and CoordinationD) Information
Sharing and Coordination
There are significant opportunities for efficiency improvement
related to sharing base data sets and coordinated data development.
· Sharing information
on data holdings, data sources and information systems is a good initial
step toward information coordination.
· There are opportunities
for using common shared data sets, particularly core geographic data sets
and country profile information. Some of the core geographic data sets
which are valuable to several of the instruments are land use, roads, vegetation,
forests, soils, climate, human settlements, population density, and location
of indigenous peoples' homelands. Data of sufficient quality are not currently
available for all countries. In many areas, environmental planning would
benefit greatly from the development of adequate core data sets. Joint
funding of such data sets should be considered.
· Information management
related to the implementation of the four instruments and the CSD is likely
to be spread across many national (and sometimes regional) agencies. Use
of an information clearing house or focal point can be useful for synthesizing
information and as an efficient multilateral means for information sharing.
Information sharing within and between countries can bring considerable
benefits, including increased coordination and cooperation.
· Information sharing
capabilities have been greatly enhanced in recent years through developments
on the Internet / WWW. Although these capabilities are not yet present
in all countries that are party to the conventions, these capabilities
are increasing and spreading at a remarkable rate. The WWW as a decentralized
means of information sharing and exchange should be considered.
E ) Improved Coordination Throughout the Policy Development
ProcessE ) Improved Coordination Throughout the Policy Development
Different ministries and agencies tend to be responsible
for the fairly separate activities under the conventions on BioloDiversity,
Climate Change, and Desertification, and the Forest Principles. This is
true throughout the planning and implementation process - from the development
of strategies and action plans, through reporting under the individual
instruments. There are opportunities for synergies throughout the process.
These include sharing core data sets, developing joint strategies for forests
with consideration of biodiversity and climate effects, developing of the
related action plan for implementation of joint activities, and shared
· The capacity available
to develop national strategies is already a scarce resource. Efficiencies,
synergies, and cooperation can be achieved by coordinating the development
of action plans on forests, biological diversity and climate jointly. This
will lead to greater efficiencies in the long run than simply focusing
on the efficiencies of shared reporting.
Exchanging informon data holdings and project activities,
sharing data, and working to coordinate reporting are all important steps
in the broader, valuable goal of improving coordination in national environmental
strategy development and implementation.
Convention on Biological Diversity (COB), 1992.
GAO (General Accounting Office), 1992. "International
environmental agreements are not well monitored" GAO/RCED-92-43.
GEF (Global Environment Facility), 1996. "Operational
Strategy," GEF, Washington, DC.
Glowka, L., F. Burhene-Guilmin and H. Synge, 1994. "A
Guide to the Convention on Biological Diversity," Environmental Policy
and Law Paper No. 30, IUCN World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland.
Groomkbridge, B. And M.D. Jenkins, 1996. "Assessing
Biodiversity Status and Sustainability," World Conservation Monitoring
Centre (WCMC), Cambridge, U.K.
Ministry of the Environment, Republic of Indonesia, 1995.
"Indonesian Country Report on Implementation of Agenda 21," Indonesia.
SARDC and IUCN, 1996. "Directory of Environmental
Information and Organizations in Southern Africa," INTERAISE, Harare,
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in
Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly
in Africa (CCD), 1992.
UN/DSD/DPCSD, 1996. "Indicators of Sustainable Development
Framework and Methodology," August, 1996, New York.
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-Guidelines for the Preparation of First Communications
by Annex I Parties, March 28, 1994.
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First Communications by Annex I Parties, Feb 13, 1996 (FCCC/SBSTA/1996/3)
-Review of the Implementation of the Convention and the
Decisions of the First Session of the COP, July 18,1996
-Decisions to Promote the Effective Implementation of
the Convention, July 17, 1996
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Committee for the Elaboration of an International CCD (INCD), "Report
on ongoing work being done on benchmarks and indicators", November,
WCMC (World Conservation Monitoring Centre), 1996. "Guide
to Information Management in the Context of the Convention on Biological
Diversity, " UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya.
WRI (World Resources Institute), 1995. "National
Biodiversity Planning: Guidelines Based on Early Experiences Around the
World," WRI, Washington, DC.
WRI (World Resource Institute), International Institute
for Environment and Development (IIED), and the World Conservation Union
( IUCN), 1996a. "World Directory of Country Environmental Studies,"
3rd Ed., WRI, Washington, DC.
WRI, UNEP, UNDP, and the World Bank, 1996(b). "World
Resources Report (WRR) 1996-97, " Oxford Press.
Worldwide Web Sites (WWW)
UNEP/ Biodiversity - www.unep.ch/bio/nbsap.html
UNEP/ Desertification - www.unep.ch\incd.html
WCMC - www.wcmc.org.uk:80/nbp/
Climate Fact Sheet - www.unep.ch/iucc/fs250
Climate - www.unfccc.de/index.html
Climate Convention - www.unfccc.de/fccc/conv/conv_toc.htm
Agenda 21 / Biodiversity - wideopen.igc.org/..5/rio5biod.html
Appendix A - Abbreviations
Used in this Report
CBD Convention on Biological Diversity
CSD Commission on Sustainable Development
COP Conference of Parties
DPCSD UN Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable
DSD UN Division for Sustainable Development
DESIPA UN Department for Economic and Social Information
and Policy Analysis
ECOSOC UN Economic and Social Council
FCCC UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
GEF Global Environent Faciltiy
IACSD Interagency Committee for Sustainable Development
IIED International Institute for Environment and Development
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
IPF Intergovernmental Panel on Forests
IUCN World Conservation Union
GBF Global Biodiverstiy Forum
GHG greenhouse gases
NBAP National Biodiversity Action Plan
OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
UNCED United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
WCMC World Conservation Monitoring Centre
WRI World Resources Institute
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