INFO-RAC in the MAP
The Regional Activity Centre for Information and Communication (INFO-RAC) was established in 2005 by the decision of the 14th Meeting of the Contracting Parties, thus substituting the Regional Activity Centre on Environment Remote Sensing (ERS-RAC) that was approved as MAP Regional Activity Centre by the 8th Meeting of the Contracting Parties in 1993. INFO-RAC was mandated to establish a common information management infrastructure to facilitate and support information and communication activities across MAP.
At the 15th Meeting of the Contracting Parties (Almeria, 15-18 January 2008), the Italian delegation announced its decision to transfer the functions of INFO-RAC to ICRAM (Italian Central Institute for Applied Marine Research), now merged into ISPRA (Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research), starting from January 2010.
As approved by the 16th Meeting of the Contracting Parties (Marrakech, 3-5 November 2009), the objective of INFO-RAC is to contribute to collecting and sharing information, raising public awareness and participation and enhancing decision-making processes at the regional, national and local levels. In this context, the mission of INFO-RAC is to provide adequate information and communication services and infrastructure technologies to Contracting Parties to implement Article 12 on public participation and Article 26 of the Barcelona Convention on reporting, as well as several articles related to reporting requirements under the different Protocols, thus strengthening MAP information management and communication capabilities.
With a view to ensuring availability of coherent and scientifically sound environmental knowledge, INFO-RAC will strive for close cooperation with other key environment institutions and international bodies working on environmental data and information management, to progressively move towards a Shared Environmental Information System.
INFO/RAC scope of action and key issues are grouped as follows:
I. Information and communication technology
- Design and implement a common environmental and spatial data infrastructure and network services for information among Mediterranean coastal States as a support to the Contracting Parties in carrying out coordinated activities at the national and regional levels, for the full implementation of the Barcelona Convention, its Protocols and the Mediterranean Strategy on Sustainable Development (MSSD);
- Promote networking on Information and Communication technology:
- Provide technical assistance to Contracting Parties in on-line reporting activities.
II. Information sharing, communication, education, training and awareness-raising
In close coordination with the Coordinating Unit and other MAP components, INFO-RAC will:
- Improve the environmental and spatial data flows management, information sharing and reporting mechanisms, through regional cooperation and appropriate training.;
- Improve the MAP corporate communication, promote education initiatives and participation and ownership of Contracting Parties;
- Establish long-term, working partnerships among MAP Components, the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders;
- Promote public participation and raise awareness on the activities of UNEP/MAP, of the Barcelona Convention and of related programmes on the environmental and sustainable development policies of individual member states of the Convention.
III. Dissemination of results from environmental research and from innovative observation and monitoring technology
- Strengthen the knowledge base for bridging the gap between science, environmental monitoring and policy making in the Mediterranean region, taking into account existing efforts at the Euro-Mediterranean level to focus on good practices relevant to the implementation of the Barcelona Convention and of the MSSD;
- Promote the sharing of experiences and results stemming from environmental research and innovative technologies, including those resulting from earth observation initiatives relevant to the Mediterranean environment and sustainable development such as the Group on Earth Observations and the Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security.
INFO-RAC will promote the use of the best available ICT for the reduction of the overall ecological footprint of MAP’s components, contributing to the greening of the Barcelona Convention.