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Capacity building for environmental data, information and knowledge management to support decision making at regional and national levels

Background:

In 1995, UNEP launched the Global Environment Outlook (GEO), which is a cross-sectoral, participatory, and consultative process and involves a wide range of partner institutes including a worldwide network of Collaborating Centres (CCs). The Collaborating Centre network ensures that comprehensive regional perspectives are incorporated in the overall assessment of the state of the global environment. The GEO process has to-date included three issues in the biennial GEO report series, regional and sub-regional assessments such as the Africa Environment Outlook and GEO for Latin America and the Caribbean, a version of GEO for youth, as well as a number of thematic and technical reports. In addition, national partner institutions using the IEA methodology have now prepared several national assessment reports.

To improve integrated environmental assessment at various levels and support the preparation of GEO reports, capacity development has been an important component of the GEO Process. The benefits of capacity building efforts for CCs have been demonstrated through an enhanced capacity to undertake IEA and other reporting at regional and national level; increased professional interaction and networking at national, regional and global levels resulting in improved collaboration; new assignments leading to the acquisition of additional resources for the CCs; and improved quality of products and services resulting in enhanced reputation and standing and increased satisfaction amongst stakeholders. The activities outlined in this project proposal are designed to address lack of data and data gaps, poor quality and inconsistencies in data gathering, and lack of access to available data.

Objective:

Improve regional capabilities to access and analyze environmental data to support national, sub-regional and regional level decision-making through the development of regional Data Portals, based on UNEP's Global Environment Outlook (GEO) Data Portal. The primary geographic focus of these activities would be Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa

Expected accomplishments:

  • Improved access to comprehensive regional and national environmental data through the Global Environment Outlook data portals in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Improved regional and national capacity to support the development, dissemination and widespread adoption of regional environmental data through the Global Environment Outlook data portals
  • Better access to and availability of cross-cutting information (to support the Global Environment Outlook data portals) — through the environment directory service, the vital graphics service and the environmental map service

Implementation status:

In 2006 technical collaborating partners at the national, sub-regional and regional levels were identified and partners have made commitment continuously to collect data and information that will be used to further develop and strengthen the GEO-Africa and GEO-LAC Data portals. The GEO Africa Data portal prototype was developed and partners in the 12 Africa Environment Information Network (AEIN) pilot countries and 5 sub-regional collaborating centres in Africa are using the portal. The GEO Africa data portal database was developed based on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the Africa Environment Outlook (AEO) environmental themes, issues and indicators has made it possible to identify data gaps at national, sub-regional and regional level that are required for integrated environmental assessment and reporting at national, sub-regional and regional levels in Africa. The GEO LAC Data Portal prototype was finalized and can be viewed in Spanish and English, which will be hosted within the new premises of the UNEP Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama City with continued technical help from partners in Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama. Ministers of Environment in LAC have decided to task its Working Group on Environmental Indicators with the finalization and maintenance of the LAC Portal, increasing political relevance and level of sustainability of the initiative. As result, national partners from countries such as Argentina and Peru have expressed interest in feeding their data into the LAC portal in order to improve the quality of statistics displayed.