The First Meeting of Coordinating Group on improving access to reliable information in the sphere of environment and water resources in CA

The First Meeting of Coordinating Group on improving access to reliable information in the sphere of environment and water resources in CA, is held in Almaty.

Two-days event (1-2 September) subdivided into 8 panel sessions, in each of which will be discussed current issues.

We suggest to familiarize with each session and participants in more detail.

In May of this year took place a two-days meeting of regional organizations of Central Asia, the main aim of which based on elaboration of concrete measures and development the mechanisms of coordination of mutual activities, long-term partnership in the case of improving ecological conditions and effective usage of water resources and successful implementation of Programme on the Aral Sea Basin (ASBP-3) in Central Asia region. As a result, there was defined several, possible directions and mechanisms of regional cooperation, such as: development of a regional vision and elaboration of joint programs on the basis and experience of ASBP-3 (Aral Sea Basin Programme-3) and Programs of measures on eliminating the consequences of the drying up of the Aral Sea and averting the catastrophe of the ecological systems in the Aral Sea region, Regional Action Plan on Environmental Protection in Central Asia, as well as creation of programs on regional vision in the long-term perspective of water sector and the environment for sustainable development.

The aim of the meeting of the coordinating group on 1-2 September – to provide guidance and coordination of activities on the development of a regional space in the sphere of information management for environmental protection and water resources in Central Asia. Regional space should provide open, comprehensive and quite simple to interpret information, based on principle of transparency, as well as in an agreed format for the use by the governments of Central Asian countries, International Fund for saving Aral Sea and by his organizations and institutions as a tool for support in decision-making process (information to monitor and evaluate the execution of political decisions) The information space should be also available to the public. The academic community, educational institutions and civil society should have free access to the information except those data, which are confidential in accordance with the agreed rules.

Session 1: Creation of conditions. Co-chairs: Shukhrat Talipov (EC-IFAS) and Bo Libert (UNECE)

Session 2: Achievements and problems in the production of data, analysis and exchange of information. Co-chairs: Muhammed Durikov (SIC ISDС) and Svetlana Shivareva (RCH) The Group will review modern practices of information management in the field of environment and water resources in Central Asia, will indicate success, identify shortcomings and also determine the ways to overcome them.

Session 3: Principles, common criteria and structure of informational space. Co-chairs: Vadim Sokolov (SIC ICWC) and Alexander Nikolaenko (GIZ) The main question- How to ensure that information about the regional space meets the general criteria such as accuracy, truthfulness, reliability, timeliness, relevance, completeness, comparability and consistency in process of time.

Session 4: Support for decision-making based on reliable and concerted information. Co-chairs: Natalia Alexeeva (UNEP) and Manon Cassar (World Bank) The Group will discuss efficiency of use by organizations and institutions IFAS, information as a tool for supporting decision-making process, including preparation of work plans, agenda, assess the implementation of decisions, preparation of projects, management and evaluation, donor coordination and participation in international events. The Group must develop recommendations about how regional information space should provide effective support for decision-making by governments, organizations and institutions of IFAS.

September 2.

Session 5: The coverage of information. Co-chairs: Malik Babadjanova (ICWC Secretariat) and Batyr Hajiyev (UNECE). The Group will define the scale of data / information on the portals that can enter the basis for a regional information space. This may include, among other things, information about water resources, condition of the environment, implementation of environmental laws, agreements and recommendations, social and economic aspects of environmental protection, conferences and decisions of the organizations and institutions of IFAS, and database projects and international events.

Session 6: Geographical coverage and sources of information. Co-chairs: Jalil Buzrukov (SIC ICSD Tajikistan) and Bakyt Makhmutov (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation). The Group will develop recommendations on geographical coverage and structuring of information (for instance: Aral Sea basin, the Syr Darya basin, the Amu Darya basin, basins of small rivers and etc.), including the possibility of gradual involvement of Afghanistan and other neighboring countries. The Group must also discuss the optimal combination of information sources for its placement on the regional portal, including information (analysis) that is provided by member States of IFAS, as well as all available public information, including information that is provided by international partners.

Session 7: The legal framework and funding. Co-chairs: Sagit Ibatullin (Implementation Committee, the UNECE Convention on Transboundary Waters) and Denis Sorokin (SIC ICWC) The Group will consider the necessity to strengthen / to add supplements into existing legal framework for the development of a regional information space. Ideally, the legal framework must include harmonized, concerted requirements for monitoring (including comparability) and rules on data exchange and management. The criteria of monitoring should allow member States and organizations to develop and agree on common methods, which will be used on all levels. Also there will be worked out recommendations on funding to the development of regional space. Funding may include donor support at the initial stage, but in the long term perspective it must come from the operational budget of IFAS or special budget, which is replenished by contributions from Member States.

Session 8: Transparency of information, access to information of scientific community, universities and civil society. Alexey Kobzev (CAREC) and Marton Krasznai (UNECE) The Group will develop recommendations on ensuring full transparency of information, including the provision of relevant, easy-to-interpret information for the public, academic circles, research community and mass media. Information space should facilitate public participation in decision-making process on environmental issues, among other things, scientifically  substantiated the decision-making, decrees and usage of other political tools.

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