INFOTERRA & ELCI Sign Agreement


UNEP and ELCI sign Agreement on Capacity Building, Sharing Information for Decision-makers and the Future Role of Non-governmental Institutions

Nairobi, 23 April 1996 --

An important partnership agreement was signed here today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Environment Liaison Centre International (ELCI) in order to increase mutual effectiveness for the implementation of Agenda 21. The cooperative agreement was signed by Harvey Croze, UNEP's Assistant Executive Director and Rob Sinclair, ELCI's Co-Executive Director.

The endorsement of Agenda 21 as a global plan of action by over 179 countries at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 reinforces the significance of existing initiatives such as the INFOTERRA Programme of UNEP and the Environment Liaison Centre International. Several Chapters of Agenda 21 directly deal with issues such as:

* Capacity Building - (Chapter 38);
* Information for Decision-making - (Chapter 40) and;
* The Role of Non-governmental Organizations - (Chapter 27);
which both UNEP and ELCI have been addressing since their inception.

INFOTERRA, UNEP's global environmental information exchange network has effectively established national focal points in 171 government designated sites and provides substantive information on environmental issues through national, regional and global networks. The network maintains an active publication programme both electronically, through the INFOTERRA Internet subscription list as well as through traditional printing of directories and sourcebooks in priority environmental subject areas. In addition, INFOTERRA supports national, regional and global capacity building programmes in environmental information dissemination and management.

ELCI, a Nairobi based global network of more than 850 non-governmental organizations drawn from more than 107 countries works on environment and development issues in order to "facilitate the voice of the grassroots", by fostering communication, information and skills between groups as well as developing mechanisms for such efforts.

UNEP and ELCI have formalized cooperation through a Memorandum of Understanding in order to promote both INFOTERRA/UNEP and ELCI initiatives as well as compliment each other. In essence, UNEP works closely with the governmental/intergovernmental sector and provides relevant sources on environmental information, whereas, ELCI works with the NGO/grassroots sector which constitutes a large client base of users of environmental information.

As agreed in the MOU, UNEP will encourage INFOTERRA national focal points in each country to collaborate with major NGOs on the organization of information in order to promote the sharing of environmental information between the governmental and non-governmental sectors. This will be accomplished by active participation in the compilation of information published at the country level as well as submissions to the INFOTERRA Directory of Sources. UNEP and ELCI will conduct joint network promotion activities in order to make available to present and prospective users the importance of environmental information in sustainable development policy planning and operational management. ELCI also agreed to involve the Southern Africa Subregional INFOTERRA Network (SASIN) national focal points in the implementation of their Information Exchange Mechanisms Project (IEM).

UNEP's Assistant Executive Director, Harvey Croze, "Welcomed even closer links in the long history of cooperation between UNEP and the ELCI, particularly given 'the leadership and responsibility from this venerable NGO in supporting regional and global efforts to improve communications flow and networking between people, their NGOs and governments".

ELCI's Co-Executive Director Rob Sinclair commented that, "In the global endeavor towards environmentally sustainable development, local communities remain the field of action for the majority of the world's population, where culturally unique responses are needed to solve economic, social and environmental problems. Yet, in this age of globalization, the underlying causes of so many of these problems are increasingly beyond the control of local populations. In such a situation, information-sharing and building better ways to communicate are vital, and ELCI's and UNEP's joint undertakings to linking communities, NGOs, and governments is an important step."


INFOTERRA, one of the most comprehensive integrated environmental information networks in the world, operates as a mechanism to facilitate the exchange of international scientific and technical environmental information. Operational since 1977, the Network, consists today of 171 national focal points (NFPs), a UNEP based headquarters in Nairobi, 10 Regional Service Centres (RSCs); and 34 Special Sectoral Sources (SSS's).

The network provides governments, industry, researchers and the general public with access to a vast reservoir of environmental information gathered from approximately 8,000 national and international expert institutions from various sectors, including governments in the UN common system, NGOs, industrial/commercial, enterprises and academia in more than a thousand priority subject areas. The network processes more than 50,000 environmental queries annually.

The primary network operational tools are the INFOTERRA International Database/Directory of Sources, the INFOTERRA Thesaurus of Environmental Terms, available in English, French, Spanish, and Russian, sourcebooks in specialized areas of expertise and the INFOTERRA Internet Subscription List. In addition, INFOTERRA has identified 34 centers of excellence, known as Special Sectoral Sources (SSSs), which provide highly specialized scientific responses to user's queries covering a range of environmental priority areas. Many of these are within UNEP and other UN agencies, but others are national or international research institutions, and the private sector enterprises. Detailed and tailored responses are provided to INFOTERRA queries, in different forms including; bibliographic references and abstracts, documents, articles, technical reports, lists of consultants, and database output.


The Environment Liaison Centre International (ELCI) is a global network of 850 non-governmental and community-based organizations working on environment and development.

ELCI's mission is to "Facilitate the Voice of the Grassroots". Central to this aim is the mandate to develop and promote mechanisms through which people working at the grassroots level in various regions of the world can exchange a wide range of information on environment and development in a much more organized and sustainable fashion".

ELCI, headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, maintains a close relationship to the UNEP and ELCIs 85O organization members from 107 countries. Over 75% of this membership is from developing countries, making ELCI the world's largest network of southern non-governmental organizations. ELCI maintains a database on over 8,000 organizations with whom regular communication strengthened, primarily through publication efforts.

ELCI recognizes as a fundamental principle the need to stimulate community-level action based activities upon establishment of appropriate information exchange mechanisms that will enable grassroots organizations to access and disseminate information on environment and development on a sustained bases.

For further information, please contact:

Beth Ingraham
Information Officer, INFOTERRA
Environmental Information Networking
Division of Environmental Information and Assessment
Tel: (254-2) 624299, 621234
Fax: (254-2) 624269 or 226949
Telex: 22068 UNEP KE

Edward Alitsi, Coordinator, Information Exchange Project
Environment Liaison Centre International
P.O. Box 72461
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (254-2) 562-015, 502-022, 562-172, 562-172
Fax: (254-2) 562-175
Telx: 2340 ELC KE

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