BSC

The Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution

Permanent Secretariat

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Terms of Reference, Advisory Group on Information and Data Exchange (IDE)

BSC 22.B.8

TERMS OF REFERENCE

OF THE ADVISORY GROUPS ON INFORMATION AND DATA EXCHANGE

(AG IDE)

Background

The Advisory Groups (AGs) were defined in the Strategic Action Plan on the Protection and Rehabilitation of the Black Sea, approved in October 1996 (BS SAP 1996). The purpose of the AGs is to provide the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (Black Sea Commission or BSC) with the best possible advice and information on topics which are key to the implementation of BS SAP and the Bucharest Convention. The list of AGs includes:

  • Advisory Group on the Environmental Safety Aspects of Shipping (AG ESAS),
  • Advisory Group on Pollution Monitoring and Assessment (AG PMA),
  • Advisory Group on Control of Pollution from Land Based Sources (AG LBS),
  • Advisory Group on the Development of Common Methodologies for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (AG ICZM),
  • Advisory Group on the Conservation of Biological Diversity (AG CBD),
  • Advisory Group on the Environmental Aspects of Management of Fisheries and other Marine Living Resources (AG FOMLR), and
  • Advisory Group on Information and Data Exchange (AG IDE).

The Terms of Reference (ToR) for all AGs except AG IDE have been approved at the 10th BSC Meeting in October 2003 (Meeting documents BSC 10.14). Since then, the AGs are fulfilling their tasks under the coordination of the BSC Permanent Secretariat (PS) supported by Black Sea Governments, and with additional finance from donors where possible and necessary.

Unlike other AGs, the AG IDE has not really started to fulfill its tasks, having met only once to draft its ToR, which still have not been discussed and approved at the BSC meetings. The report on Regional Gap Analysis of the BS SAP Implementation prepared in 2007 identified the inability of AG IDE to fulfill its tasks as a serious gap and recommended that "the group shall be re-established with a special attention to its members to include chairs of advisory groups".

Considering the above and taking into account changes, which have occurred since the time of the first drafting of the AG IDE ToR, this document represents the revised Terms of References of the Advisory Group on Information and Data Exchange to be considered at forthcoming BSC meeting.

Objectives

The Advisory Group on Information and Data Exchange should focus on the improvement of information flow and data exchange in order to set up in the Permanent Secretariat a clearinghouse for Black Sea environmental information and timely provide the Secretariat with materials necessary for assessment of the State of Environment of the Black Sea and preparation of corresponding reports to the Commission.

Legal status and Institutional Structure

The Advisory Group on Information and Data Exchange (AG IDE) is an integral part of the Black Sea Commission institutional structure and constitutes its subsidiary body:

  • The AG IDE is comprised of national focal points nominated by the Contracting Parties and is responsible for the facilitation of links between the Black Sea Commission and the relevant national authorities and regional and national scientific expertise. The AG IDE also includes chairs of the other advisory groups as associated members. While nominating the national focal points to the AG IDE, the Contracting Parties are advised to take into consideration the national bodies participating in international data and information exchange, such as National Oceanographic Data Centers (NODC) - members of the UNESCO IODE Black Sea Ocean Data and Information Network;
  • The members of the AG IDE shall elect its chairperson among themselves for two years;
  • The national focal points speak on behalf of their countries and are responsible for the accurate and timely delivery of requested national information to the BSC PS;
  • The AG IDE is coordinated and subordinated to the BSC PS, which provides practical technical support for its work;

Main responsibilities

The AG IDE acts in its advisory, coordinating, and informational capacity for the purpose of BSC to achieve the goals of the Bucharest Convention and BS SAP including but not limited to:

  1. Ensuring that data flow and data and information quality within BSC infrastructure is satisfactory for the preparation of periodical reports on the State of Environment of the Black Sea;
  2. Elaborating proposals on strengthening the exchange of information and data, including exchange of meta data within the BSC infrastructure;
  3. Elaborating proposals on a mechanism for improving public and decision-makers access to the Black Sea environmental information;
  4. Establishment of the regional Internet facility comprising:
    • meta level information on environmental data (how to locate the data),
    • copies of (links to) historical data opened for public use,
    • sets of the new data obtained from various international programmes, including those of the Commission,
    • links to data sets from at main World data centers / Networks such as WDC, SeaDataNet and others;
  5. Maintenance and updating the existing Black Sea Information System (BSIS) and Black Sea Geographical Information System;
  6. Cooperation and data exchange with the national and international Programmes / Networks / Projects in the Black Sea region;
  7. Updating the Black Sea Bibliography;
  8. Coordinating training on data and information exchange as it deems necessary;
  9. Assistance to and cooperation with other networks in the region.

Main tasks

  1. Preparation and regular updating of the regional inventory of all available sources of data and information in the Black Sea region (both national and international), which are relevant to the scope of BS SAP;
  2. Assisting other Advisory Groups in development of guidelines on data and information exchange within area of their responsibility;
  3. Assisting other Advisory Groups in including their data in the BSIS;
  4. Setting up Quality Assurance / Quality Control for the data submitted to BSIS;
  5. Setting up the electronic repository for the Black Sea Bibliography;
  6. Dissemination of the information about State of Environment of the Black Sea, relevant data and BSC demonstration materials to the public through the Internet facility;
  7. Identification of bottlenecks or impediments of legal, institutional or technical nature in data and information exchange and proposing mechanisms for facilitation of information flow through improvement of institutional coordination mechanisms with national networks and institutions in the Black Sea countries.

Interaction within the Black Sea Commission Institutional Structure

The AG IDE is directly subordinated to and supported by the BSC and its PS and shall report to the BSC on an annual basis. The general coordination for the AG IDE is assigned by the Commission to the appropriate officer of its Permanent Secretariat. The AG IDE collaborates on specific issues with all entities of the BSC and other organizations as follows:

  1. With other Advisory Groups to be aware about data and information exchange within the area of their responsibility; to propose coherent, cost effective measures for the building up, strengthening and efficient functioning of the information exchange in this area; and to facilitate timely delivery of data and information to Permanent Secretariat;
  2. With National Monitoring Networks and research institutions in all Black Sea countries, involved in BSC infrastructure in order to achieve sustainability and continuity of the data and information flow for the purposes of the BS SAP implementation.

In order to make collaboration with other Advisory Groups more effective, the chairs of the Groups are included in AG IDE as associated members.

Interaction with other conventions and stakeholders

In order to achieve tangible results and benefit from the international experience the AG IDE, when authorized by the Black Sea Commission and on its behalf, shall seek:

  1. Collaboration with national bodies responsible for oceanographic data and information exchange (NODC)
  2. Collaboration with other National Monitoring Networks and research institutions in all Black Sea countries in order to involve them in data and information exchange for the BSC purposes;
  3. Coherence and coordination of overlapping activities with international research programs and projects and bodies such as Black Sea GOOS, ODIN Black Sea, SeaDataNet project, BSS UPGRADE project, ECOOP project, SESAME Project, EMODNET, MyOcean project, etc.;
  4. Collaboration with executive bodies other conventions such as International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) and Caspian Environment Programme (CEP);
  5. Information exchange with NGOs communities / networks;
  6. Best use of expertise within the region and, within its work plan approved on an annual basis by the Commission, cooperation on specific tasks with any institution or expert that it considers appropriate;

Reporting requirements

In order to facilitate the Black Sea Commission work and to lessen the burden of the national reporting to the Bucharest Convention, the AG IDE shall assist all Advisory Groups in the development and implementation of a comprehensive reporting system on the state of the environment of the Black Sea and will participate in the revising of BSC reporting formats as it deems necessary.

The AG IDE should:

  1. Report to the Black Sea Commission on a yearly basis regarding:
    • Data flow, data exchange, data control and availability of information per Advisory Groups and in total;
    • Analysis of gaps and challenges;
    • Recommendations on measures to be undertaken;
  2. Prepare and submit its work plan to the Permanent Secretariat two months prior the annual BCS meetings for its approval and incorporation in the Black Sea Commission Work Plan;
  3. Participate in the compilation of the annual report on the current State of Environment of the Black Sea;
  4. Convene a meeting at least once a year but not later than two months prior the Commission Meeting. More meetings could be called upon the availability of funds and the urgency of the issue in question. The Minutes of each AG IDE meeting should be delivered to the Permanent Secretariat within 10 days after the meeting.

TOR Revision

The AG IDE should review the Terms of References, make necessary changes, as it deems necessary and submit it to the Permanent Secretariat two months prior the Commission annual meeting.