Preparing separate reports on implementation of different, but related, international treaties can represent a burden on countries -- particularly on countries with limited resources. This also results in duplication of efforts and inefficiencies in terms of the amount of time spent on reporting activities and associated costs, among other factors. In the case of reporting to the biodiversity-related conventions
, the secretariats are engaged in an ongoing process which seeks to identify ways and means to construct and implement a harmonized reporting system.
Activities were initiated in 1998 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the secretariats of the global biodiversity-related conventions, who commissioned the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) to undertake a Feasibility Study for a Harmonized Information Management Infrastructure for Biodiversity-related Treaties
(Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS); Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar); and the Convention Concerning the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (WHC)). Four related pilot studies were also carried out in Ghana, Indonesia, Panama and the Seychelles.
In 2002, at its sixth meeting, the Conference of the Parties welcomed UNEP's work on the harmonization of environmental reporting and encouraged its continuation. Activities have continued since this time (albeit to varying degrees), led primarily by UNEP-WCMC.
There are several obstacles to overcome, largely related to the different reporting cycles and formats of the conventions, as well as their use of different datasets. More recently, the feasibility of modular reporting has garnered attention, as has the potential use of an online reporting system to streamline reporting and manage information.