Assessing and Strengthening National Capacities for Effective Stakeholder Engagement in Environmental Management
Preparation of a National Profile and Action Plan to Implement Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration
June 2008This noteprovides information forthe African region countries interested in participating as pilot countries in a UNITAR-supported project to prepare a National Profile, set priorities and develop an Action Plan to strengthen national capacities to implement Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration. Country projects will start in October 2008and have duration of 15 months. The deadline for submitting applications is 31 August 2008.Selected countries will be informed in mid-September 2008.
Stakeholder involvement and public participation in environmental decision-making and implementation has become a cornerstone of environmental governance in many African countries. Potential benefits of public participation include improving the quality of decision-making, facilitating policy implementation, and enhancing the responsiveness of institutions to public needs.
At the international level, Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, adopted by Heads of State and Governmentsat the Rio Summit in 1992, has become an important international reference point to strengthen access to environmental information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters. In the African region, NEPAD considers among its founding principles good governance as well as a broad and deep participation of all sectors in society, in order to address the current development challenges of the continent.
Experience gained reveals, however, that a one-size-fits-all approach to public participation in environmental decision-making is not appropriate, given diverging national as well as local needs and circumstances. Solutions thus need to take into account national political and cultural contexts, as well as existing capacities in government and civil society.
2ProjectsObjectives and Activities
As a contribution to capacity development to strengthen access to information and public participation in environmental decision-makingin Africa, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) is providingsupport to three pilot countries in Africa to develop a National Profile, set priorities and develop an Action Plan to strengthen national capacities to implement Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration. The pilot projects have the objective to catalyze a multi-stakeholder process that assesses existing capacities at national and local levelsand to identify opportunities for targeted capacity development. Each pilot project features three distinctive stagesimplemented during the course of October 2008 to December 2009 and briefly introduced below.
Development of a National Profile
The National Profileprovides an overview of the country’s political and administrative system and practices concerning implementation of the three pillars of Principle 10. It generates important baseline information and serves as a tool to identify strengths and weaknesses of existing capacities.The analysis addressesgeneral environmental management, as well as sector-specific issues (e.g. biodiversity, pollution, land-use, water management, etc.). As part of the National Profile preparation, countries also review specific environmental decision-making processes and identify lessons learned concerning theirpublicengagement dimension.
National Priority Setting
Building upon the National Profile, a national workshop provides an opportunity for stakeholders to identify priorities for Principle 10 implementation.The workshop will also identify opportunities on how the identified prioritiescan be implemented through capacity development initiatives in the country with an environmental governance dimension.
Action Plan Development
Based onthe National Workshop, pilot countries will further refine and completeanAction Plan on Principle 10 Implementation which should receive endorsement both by government and civil society groups.The plan is expected to inform decision-making and activities in government and stakeholder groups to strengthen democratic environmental governance at all levels.
3Project Implementation and Resources
National Project Implementation and Coordination
At the national level, the project will be coordinated by a government ministry (e.g. Ministry of the Environment),working closely withother relevant government institutions, as well as key parties outside of government. The involvement of the private sector and public interest organizations (e.g. environmental groups), as well as of research institutes, academia, indigenous groups, etc. is of great importance. Anational multi-stakeholder coordinating group will guide and monitor project implementation in each pilot country.A planning meeting will be held early on in the process to identify members of the coordinating group and develop a project workplan.
Support Provided by UNITAR
Throughout the project, UNITAR will provide pilot countries with guidance and methodological support concerning National Profile and Action Plan preparation. In addition, each country will be provided with a grant of USD 30,000 to contribute to locally executed project activities.
Interested countries should submit a statement of interest and complete an Application Form. The Application should be endorsed or co-sponsoredby least two other relevant ministries. In addition, letters of support should be provided by major civil society groups or associations, including non-governmental environmental organizations and the private sector. The Annex to the application should list all parties – within and outside of government – which will be involved in national project implementation.Only one application per country should be submitted. Application forms can be downloaded at The deadline for submitting the application package is 31 August 2008. The three pilot countries will be identified in September 2008.
For additional information please contact:
Environmental Governance Program
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 GENEVE 10
Tel: +41 22 917 85 22
Fax: +41 22 917 80 47