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EC-CHM: European Community Clearing-House Mechanism

EC-CHM
    Biodiversity is much more complex than just ‘nature’ or ‘environment’ as it refers to all varieties and forms of life. Biodiversity breaks down into three levels: diversity of ecosystems, species and genes. It is essential to maintain biodiversity since it has important social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic values. In 1992, biodiversity was a key element of the Earth Summit which led to a United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It remains just as important now as species and ecosystems continue to disappear at a high rate. EC-CHM is part of Europe’s contribution, acting as a regional one-stop shop for information on biodiversity resources and progress in fighting its decline.

Last update: 01/2004

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What is EC-CHM?

Objectives

How does it work?

Achievements

Who benefits?

The role of IDA

Background information

Technical information

Documentation

 

What is EC-CHM?

The European Community Clearing-House Mechanism (EC-CHM) is a web portal designed and managed by the European Environment Agency (EEA) bringing together biodiversity information from across the EU. It is the European Community's contribution to the global portal being developed under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The CBD was one of the key agreements adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro on 'sustainable development'. It is a 'framework for action' involving the vast majority of the world's governments committed to maintaining the world's ecological underpinnings in a continuing era of economic development.

Some of the many issues dealt with under the Convention include:

  • Measures and incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
  • Regulated access to genetic resources.
  • Access to and transfer of technology, including biotechnology.
  • Technical and scientific cooperation.
  • Impact assessment.
  • Education and public awareness.
  • Provision of financial resources.
  • National reporting on efforts to implement treaty commitments.

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Objectives

As expertise in managing information and technology varies enormously from country to country, the Convention has established a "clearing-house mechanism" to ensure that all governments have access to the information and technologies they need for their work on biodiversity (Art 18). The EC-CHM is one of the focal points of this worldwide network.

  • EC-CHM's key objective is therefore to provide a valuable tool to promote scientific and technical cooperation across the EU Member States in the field of conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity mainly through the development and implementation of national policies.
  • It also aims to provide access to information on European Community progress on implementing CBD's goals which are the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the sharing of the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way.
  • At the same time, it contributes to education and raising public awareness of biodiversity.
  • The provision of information by the EC-CHM is of particular importance for the compilation of national and Community reports, and for information on progress in implementing concrete measures for biodiversity.

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How does it work?

The ongoing development of the EC-CHM project is based on global guidelines set by the CBD Secretariat and uses the facilities of the EEA website (including the eEIONET network) and its standardised document handling.

A steering committee (open to all interested Member States) and a task force (consisting of representatives appointed by EEA from countries with special interest in collaboration) advise on its development. Observers from the CBD Secretariat (permanent), United Nation Environment Programme - Regional Office Europe (UNEP ROE) and the Council of Europe are invited to ensure collaboration also with EEA's non-EU member countries as well as with other countries and organisations in Europe.

The EC-CHM web portal has become the entry point to a huge network of institutions and organisations working on biodiversity. It links to other institutions and organisations (governmental, private and NGOs) that house useful information in Europe and elsewhere.

Through search facilities, users can find information from different perspectives according to their needs. The website either already provides or will soon provide the following structured information:

  • Convention and Policy including policies, legislation, conventions and reports;
  • Cooperation funding, research programmes, case studies, partnering and twinning, best practice;
  • Information on selected groups of species; list of available databases, thesaurus, indicators (membership only), country profiles etc;
  • Organisations and Networks, the who's who, organisation and networks;
  • Services such as search engine, news, meetings and events.

In order to guarantee the integrity of data and information, the material found on EC-CHM is kept and maintained by the original sources of information. The public can have access to most areas of the web portal with the exception of certain sensitive areas reserved for members only. These include a section on biodiversity indicators.

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Achievements

  • After two years of planning and development, the EC-CHM portal began life in the spring of 2001. The website was further implemented to suit the EEA website and the use of Dublin core meta-data rules (XML).
  • Whilst the portal is online, its interoperability functionalities are still being enhanced. Contents (including web links) are constantly under expansion.
  • The EC-CHM is now being actively used by the Commission to post news on Biodiversity reports to CBD.

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Who benefits?

Citizens: Through the strengthening of the international cooperation the EC-CHM is contributing to the protection of the living world for the future generations. It helps to raise public awareness; citizens can access the EC-CHM website to find information on biodiversity related to policies, legislation, funding opportunities, databases, sources of expertise, etc. and understand better the implications of our daily actions on the ecosystem.

Public Administrations: The EC-CHM can contribute to a better, more cost-effective decision-making process by helping the competent authorities to implement biodiversity-related initiatives through the access to readily available information.

Businesses: Biodiversity is essential for the long-term sustainability of agriculture and fisheries, and it is the basis for many industrial processes and the production of new medicines. EC-CHM aims at supporting the cooperation in the field of research and technology for a sustainable development. There is a large community of scientific experts worldwide working in the biodiversity field. Thanks to the data and information available, the EC-CHM helps promote and facilitate scientific and technological cooperation not just within Europe but also with the other countries around the world who are signatories to the UN CBD. This concerns training, education, research, information and expertise. The EC-CHM helps reduce the duplication of related efforts and therefore improves the efficiency of these groups of experts.

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The role of IDA

The EC-CHM was financed by the IDA Programme. It makes use of CIRCA application and was developed according to the IDA Architecture Guidelines

In addition its portal has been built using a reusable software package for portal websites. This package, called the EC-CHM portal Tool Kit (PTK) is now available to others.

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Background information

The Commission presented the Community Biodiversity Strategy in 1998 and in 2001 adopted a series of action plans to integrate the protection of biodiversity into EU agricultural, fishery, environment, development, and cooperation policies. The aim of the action plans was to stop losses in wildlife, ecosystems, varieties of crops, domestic animals and fish. As traditional natural conservation policies are not enough to preserve the world's biodiversity, specific protection measures for key species and habitats are essential but are not, by themselves, a satisfactory response to the problem of biodiversity loss.

The Sixth Environmental Action Plan (EAP), 'Environment 2010: Our Future, Our Choice', highlights nature and biodiversity as a top priority. It states that responses must be found to the pressures from human activities on nature and the biodiversity it supports.

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Technical information

Project start date

1999

Project completion date

2003

Project status

Implementation

IDA budget

1998  €  400,000
1999  €  600,000
2000  
€  330,000
2001 
€  850,000
2002 
€  699,000

Responsible service

European Environment Agency (EEA), DG Environment

Project coordinator

Nicholas Hanley (policy issues) Ulla Pinborg (technical issues)

Contact

idabc@ec.europa.eu

Countries involved

All EU Member States

Public website

http://biodiversity-chm.eea.eu.int/

Background documents

http://biodiversity-chm.eea.eu.int/convention/cbd_ec and http://biodiversity-chm.eea.eu.int/information/document/404010 
European Environment Agency

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Documentation:


Global Implementation Plan, Annual Report and Conclusions on proposal approvals
 ECCHM 2-Conclusions on proposal approvals - November 2003 (PDF)
EnglishPDF[47 Kb]
 EC CHM Annual Report -November 2003 (PDF)
EnglishPDF[55 Kb]
 EC-CHM GIP - 2000 (PDF)
EnglishPDF[61 Kb]


  Articles

EC-CHM: when IT systems help protect biodiversity - IDA Report 21 - March 2004

 

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