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A briefing workshop on assessing capacities and needs of the Republic of Belarus was held in Minsk
On 26 August 2003 a briefing workshop was held in Minsk within the framework of the joint project of the Belarus Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on assessing capacities and needs of the Republic of Belarus in meeting its commitments under the international conventions on nature conservation. The workshop brought together heads of nature conservation ministries and agencies as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations. Opening addresses were made by Vassily Podolyako, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, and Neil Buhne, UNDP Representative/UN Resident-Coordinator in Belarus.
In 2002 the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus jointly with other stakeholders elaborated and, following approval by the Belarusian Government, forwarded through the UNDP a financing request to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) for the project titled «Assessment of Belarus' capacities and needs in meeting its international commitments on environmental protection». The aim of the project is to assess opportunities for enhancing individual, institutional and system capacities for implementing the global conventions such as the UN Convention on Biodiversity, the UN Convention on Prevention of Land Desertification/Degradation, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and others.
At present Belarus is a party to a number of global conventions on environmental protection. Strategies and the national action plans have been developed with regard to some of them and the relevant research has been initiated. However, there's a serious lack of coordination between various agencies involved in the implementation of the international environmental programs. This is an impediment for efficient planning of the national and international resources to be allocated for activities intended to ensure compliance with the referred agreements. The new project is expected to help in addressing the problem.
One of the major requirements and also a condition for successful achievement of the project goals is the broadest involvement of all concerned in assessment and capacity building for solid implementation of the provisions of the three basic global conventions. Therefore, the project is expected to involve representatives of various ministries, agencies, research institutions and general public. The specifics of the project is that the information will be collected and assessed by the Belarusian experts representing both research community and government bodies of the country.
The terms of reference for the project includes review of legislation and regulations, methodological recommendations and instructions; government management system; financial and economic instruments; the national, regional and departmental strategies; research, educational and promotion facilities; mass media; regional problems; international and, primarily, cross-border cooperation; interrelation with other nature conservation conventions. Findings of the review will form a basis for elaborating concrete proposals on strengthening capacity building in each related field and for developing recommendations to maximize synergies in all areas relating to the conventions in general.
The National Executive Agency for the project will be the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus. UNDP offices in Belarus and in Bratislava, Slovakia (the UNDP Regional Office) will facilitate implementation of the project. By now UNDP-GEF have developed some instructions and methodological materials for capacity assessment and enhancement and have forwarded them to the Belarusian counterparts.
The duration of the project is 18 months. The major outcome will be the elaboration of the National Report on self-assessment of Belarus' capacities in environmental management and formulation of the concrete Action Plan which should specify achievable goals, funding sources and implementing agencies. The National Sustainable Development Strategy (which is to be finalized and approved by end 2003) should become a reference point for developing the Action Plan. It is expected that the Action Plan will be later incorporated in the Strategy as an annex.
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