16 Dec 2019 Story Environmental rights and governance

New data reporting tool rolls out for African countries

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The submission of national reports on the implementation of biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements is an essential requirement for Parties. Looking across all biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements, national reporting is almost a continuous process, and may constitute a high burden for parties, however, with a limited perceived value.

Many studies have assessed opportunities and options to relieve the reporting burden to promote synergies among biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements. Many of them concluded that the burden may be alleviated to some extent through improved communication, coordination, and collaboration at national level and enhanced integration of biodiversity information.

According to Patrick Egloff, Deputy Permanent Representative to UN Environment Programme (UNEP) at the Swiss Embassy in Kenya, reporting is key to measuring the progress, ownership and the commitments to the multilateral environmental agreements. However, reporting of the implementation and achievement of the multilateral environmental agreements has increasingly become more of a burden to governments. Currently, the multilateral environmental agreements are not synchronized with different reporting cycles, so it is crucial for governments to think of how they make the reporting more efficient and effective together with UNEP, the European Union and the secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements.

The United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (InforMEA) has rolled out a data reporting tool for multilateral environmental agreements which seeks to integrate national biodiversity information in one place, and enable efficient analysis of multilateral environmental agreements-related information against Sustainable Development Goals. This will ultimately demonstrate the contribution of multilateral environmental agreements towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The data reporting tool intends to create collective national working spaces that will help organize, share and maintain documentation in the context of national reports. The use of the same working space by several reporters is expected to foster communication and cooperation at national levels and to facilitate the reuse of available information.

UNEP organized a meeting in October 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya, to roll out, test and validate the tool in order to enhance its functionalities. Government officials from different African countries (Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Egypt, Morocco, Rwanda and Tanzania) participated in the meeting.

“While reporting provides a basis for reviewing national implementation, it can be a resource-intensive task and burden for parties. The reporting tool responds to the increasing demand calling for solutions to avoid duplications of efforts in national reporting. The reporting tool has also a potential in integrated reporting not only for biodiversity-related conventions but also for other clusters such as the chemicals and waste clusters, Rio Conventions as well as the Sustainable Development Goals, by reducing duplication of work and facilitating access to management of information,” said Elizabeth Mrema, former Director at UNEP, current Acting Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity.

For more information, please contact Diane Klaimi at Diane.Klaimi[at]un.org or Kazuhiko Seriu at Kazuhiko.Seriu[at]un.org