2 The Survey and Workshop

2.1 Response to the Survey

Fourteen of the 18 EEA Member Countries replied to the questionnaire survey by the time of the international workshop held in London in September 1996, while two replied later.

The results presented here therefore cover detailed information received from 16 countries and some general information from one country. All EEA Member Countries had formally ratified the Convention by the end of 1996.

In 14 EEA Member Countries the government ministry responsible at national level for the follow-up of the Convention is the Environment Ministry. In three other countries, nature conservation and implementation of the Convention is the responsibility of a government department with a different title: in the Netherlands this is the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries, in Ireland, the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, and for Belgium responsibility is divided between the Federal State Secretariat for Security, Social Integration and Environment and the Federal Ministry for Science Policy. In 14 out of 16 countries the responsible organisations or their agencies also completed the survey.

There were differences in approach to completing the survey, particularly in three respects: (i) financial aspects (some countries were unable to separate out different components of their overall budget due to the cross-cutting nature of many of the issues; there were also differences in interpretation over what expenditure should be included); (ii) reference to submitted documents (the replies to some questions referred to published documents without elaborating the detail); and (iii) amount of detail supplied (some countries supplied detailed lists in response to certain questions, while others presented a summary). These differences in approach created difficulties in making between-country comparisons in terms of progress in meeting the obligations of the Convention. The workshop held subsequently gave an opportunity for some of these differences to be made apparent and normalised.

One general problem for Federal States was that the national response referred to delegation at state (regional) level without indicating what kind of response these regions had given to the Articles of the Convention.

Most of the countries probably did not overstate their response to the Convention to date, but it was somewhat unclear what kind of difference the Convention had made to their general biodiversity management work. Many of the countries gave answers which referred to the ongoing development of strategies and action plans, and it seems obvious that this assessment came too early in the implementation process for them. However, the alternative view is that many countries seemed slow in their implementation of the Convention, and little or no information was provided on how they will react once their strategies and plans are ready.

The independent appraisals of the survey responses largely confirmed that, in the view of the scientists concerned, the official responses had been an adequate statement of the true position with regard to the implementation of the Convention in their country. In a very small number of cases there were differences of opinion, which led to revisions of the responses and ultimate agreement.



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