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Mini-conference on Agenda 21 and the Information Society

13 December 2007

Geneva, Switzerland

Mini-conference poster

On the opening day of the sixth meeting of the Task Force, the Task Force hosted a mini-conference entitled, "Agenda 21 and the Information Society: Assessing Progress on Closing the Digital Divide, Access to Environmental Information and ICT for Sustainable Development in the ECE Region."

The event marked the 15th anniversary of the adoption of Agenda 21 and principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development by the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. These agreements prefigured the development of the Aarhus Convention.

Mr. Charles Geiger, Special Advisor for the UNCTAD Secretariat on the Commission on Science and Technology for Development and former Executive Secretary to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), served as Chairperson of the conference.

The conference opened with a session examining the growth of the Information Society in the UNECE region in light of the implementation of principle 10 and the Aarhus Convention and initiatives to build the region's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capacity.

Session One: Regional benchmarking and capacity-building
Session Two: Making environmental information accessible: collaboration, networking and partnerships on clearing-house mechanisms
Session Three: E-environment, E-commerce and E-democracy
Document Title ENG
Regional overview of the development of the Information Society – Prof. Larissa Kapitsa, Professor, Moscow State Institute of International Relations PDF
Trends in access to environmental information among Parties to the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) – Mr. Chris Jarvis, Chairperson, Task Force on Electronic Information Tools and Freedom of Information Policy Manager, Environment Agency of England and Wales PPT
Regional capacity-building and guidance for policy makers in Central Asia – Ms. Michiko Enomoto, Economic Affairs Officer, Economic Cooperation and Integration Division, UNECE PDF

A second session was devoted to Web-based information clearinghouses. It sought to highlight the unique partnerships between UNECE and other agencies created to support the development and management of these increasingly popular public information services.

Document Title ENG
The Aarhus Clearinghouse for Environmental Democracy: UNECE and GRID-Arendal
Mr. Michael Stanley-Jones, Environment, Housing and Land Management Division, UNECE
Transport, Health and Environment: Lessons from THE PEP Clearinghouse: UNECE and WHO/Europe – Mr. Martin Magold, Chief, Border Crossing Facilitation Section, Transport Division, UNECE PPT
The Good practices in Education for Sustainable Development and UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development web portals: UNECE and UNESCO – Mr. Bernard Combes, Programme Specialist for Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO PPT
Development of the Stockholm POPs Convention Clearinghouse – Mr. Osmany Pereira Gonzalez, Information Manager, Secretariat to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, UNEP PPT
The Biosafety Clearinghouse of the Convention on Biological Diversity – Ms. Jyoti Mathur-Fillipp, UNEP - GEF Biosafety Protocol Unit, Geneva PPT
Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) and the “Aarhus” Public Environmental Centres – Ms. Nana Janashia, Executive Director, CENN PPT

A final session examined European and national perspectives on the Directive establishing Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) and the complementary development of a Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS). E-tools Task Force members and other experts discussed how INSPIRE and SEIS may transform public access and use of environmental information, and the impact these changes are expected to have in the areas of e-environment, e-commerce, e-democracy in Europe.

Document Title ENG

Directive 2007/2/EC establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) – Ms. Meropi Paneli, Directorate-General Environment, Commission of the European Communities


National perspectives on the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) – Ms. Michaela Dombrovská , Czech Environmental Information Agency


E-commerce as a strategy for development – Mr. Jean Kubler, Chief, Global Trade Solutions Section, UNECE


Public/Private Partnerships for Sustainable Development – Mr. Geoffrey Hamilton, Chief, Cooperation and Partnerships Section, Economic Cooperation and Integration Division, UNECE


E-democracy and the quest for environmental sustainability: the role of the Aarhus Convention – Mr. Jeremy Wates, Secretary to the UNECE Aarhus Convention


The mini-conference was co-organized by the UNECE informal ICT Group for Development.

For the complete programme of the mini-conference, click here.

See also the Aarhus Clearinghouse Special Report.


Stakeholder Consultation on Public Participation in Internet Governance
"Towards a code of good practice building on the principles of WSIS and the Aarhus Convention"

23 May 2008, 14:00-17:00 – International Telecommunications Union, Geneva

World Summit on the Information Society Cluster Week event
Geneva, 21 May 2007

First Internet Governance Forum
Athens, 30 October-2 November 2006

World Summit on the Information Society
Tunis Phase, 16-18 November 2005

World Summit on the Information Society
Geneva Phase, 10-12 December 2003