The overall objective of this three year contract was to assist the European Commission in the development of an information system to support the biodiversity policy cycle in the EU. The information system will facilitate European nature and biodiversity assessments on progress in achieving the targets identified in the Communication on Halting the Loss of Biodiversity to 2010 and Beyond and the associated EU Biodiversity Action Plan to 2010 and Beyond. The project foresaw three main parts:
the first related to assessing progress in implementing the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) (Objective 1);
the second looked at how this can be built into the developing Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) (Objective 2); and,
the third was concerned with increasing species and habitats data availability through a stakeholder consultation process (Objective 3).
In practice, at the direction of the Commission, the focus of the project was on Objective 1 with some inputs into Objective 2. Furthermore the emphasis of the project was on developing the reporting system for Member States to provide information on progress in implementing the BAP, rather than on developing an IT tool or underlying system for storing the information gathered.
In year 1 and year 3 of the project the Contractor assisted the Commission in the mid-term assessment (2008) and full term (2010) assessment of the implementation of the BAP by Member States respectively (Objective 1). In year 2 the consultant developed an evaluation framework (Objective 1) to be used for the 2010 and 2013 evaluations of the BAP, and in addition undertook a scoping assessment of why the Community failed to reach the 2010 target in light of a Communication on Options for an EU vision and target for biodiversity beyond 2010. The contractor also analysed the EC BAP reporting process, other relevant reporting processes and their overlap with the former, as well as identifying options for harmonisation between these reporting processes, building on the experience with analysing options for harmonisation of reporting between biodiversity-related conventions at the global level. The reporting challenges and processes for the BAP were explored to define how a more harmonised and streamlined process could be implemented in future. Lessons learned on the BAP data storage over the course of the project and underlying information technology requirements were also developed towards project Objective 2 (SEIS).
MRAG was the lead partner in a consortium and in addition to managing the project and its various outputs, had particular responsibility for actions under BAP Objective 3: To conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services in the wider EU marine environment and Supporting Measures 2-4: Strengthening decision-making, building partnerships for biodiversity and building public education, awareness and participation for biodiversity.