National reporting is an important and necessary requirement under most multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). It is used to demonstrate compliance with the terms and objectives of the MEA. It can be used as an assessment tool for countries to track their progress in addressing environmental concerns at the national level. It also assists MEA secretariats and other multilateral organisations in analysing the state of the environment, assess trends and provide early warning of emerging threats. However, for some countries with small environment agencies, fulfilling national reporting requirements can be difficult and resource-intensive.
The Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), in collaboration with the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), has developed a project to streamline reporting by Pacific Island countries to the biodiversity-related MEAs. The project was funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
The project has resulted in the development and trial of a consolidated reporting template for Pacific Island countries to report on five of the biodiversity-related MEAs:
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)
- Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar)
- World Heritage Convention (WHC).
The template was drafted through a consultative process involving Australian Government agencies, Pacific Island countries, SPREP, and the UNEP- World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC). The secretariats of the biodiversity-related MEAs also provided input and feedback on the template.
The consolidated reporting template is designed to facilitate reporting by reducing duplication and by making the process simpler and less resource-intensive. This will decrease the amount of time Pacific Island countries spend on national reporting yet still enable them to communicate their progress and achievements in implementing the MEAs. Instead of preparing multiple reports, countries would develop only one national report per reporting period. The template represents a practical example of how national reporting can be streamlined.
The template is currently available as a draft in both Microsoft Word format and as an interactive SmartForm that sits within the Adobe LifeCycle software program. Use of SmartForms means the template is now available as a simple, interactive PDF that is purpose-designed to facilitate reporting. It is administered through Adobe Reader, a program that is free to download and compatible with most levels of computer technology. This is especially useful for countries with intermittent internet access as information can be saved in the traditional PDF format. SmartForms enable information to be easily managed by both developed and developing countries without the need for new IT infrastructure.
The template was trialled in eight Pacific Island countries in 2008-09 - the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. The objective of the trial was to 'road-test' the template to determine its suitability for use in the Pacific. The results of the trial were positive.
Although the template is not formally endorsed for use by the biodiversity MEA governing bodies, it provides a valuable case study of a regional approach to streamline reporting. The template could facilitate reporting by countries in other regions with similar staffing and resource constraints.
The project will now be brought to the attention of the Biodiversity Liaison Group (BLG) for their consideration. Membership of the BLG comprises the executive heads of all five secretariats of the MEAs addressed in this project. The role of the BLG is to identify options for improved implementation of and cooperation among the biodiversity-related MEAs - it is therefore an ideal forum to progress discussion of this project. In addition, the project will be promoted at upcoming international forums relating to the biodiversity MEAs.
The template is not available for official use as a reporting template and is provided only as an example of a consolidated reporting model.
Preliminary draft only - please note that a new version of the SmartForm template will be made available shortly.
- Draft - Consolidated Reporting Template to the biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements (PDF - 314 KB) | (Word - 888 KB)
- Options to streamline reporting by Pacific Island countries to the biodiversity-related multilateral environment agreements (2007) (PDF - 177 KB) | (Word - 778 KB)
- Outcomes of the trial of the consolidated reporting template for Pacific Island countries to the biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements (2008) (PDF - 194 KB) | (Word - 1124 KB)
- Progress report on the project to streamline reporting by Pacific Island countries to the biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements (2009) (PDF - 172 KB) | (Word - 709 KB)
- Final report: Streamlined reporting by Pacific Island countries to the biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements (2010) (PDF - 131 KB) | (Word - 536 KB)
- 'Streamlined reporting for Pacific Island countries (PICs) to the biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs): development of a consolidated reporting template', MEA Bulletin, December 2008
- 'Preconditions for harmonisation of reporting to biodiversity-related multilateral environmental agreements'
- Australian Agency for International Development
- United Nations Environment Program - World Conservation Monitoring Centre
- Biodiversity Liaison Group