The Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) is the information information exchange platform of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with the CBD website as a central hub, national Clearing-House Mechanisms at country level, and partner institutions at thematic or regional levels.
In this context, a national CHM website is expected to complement the central CBD website by providing more specific information services to facilitate the implementation of national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs) at country level, in accordance with CHM Goal 2 adopted by decision X/15.
Furthermore, in paragraph 15 of decision XII/2 B, the Conference of the Parties (COP) strongly encourages Parties to accelerate the establishment and development of their national clearing-house mechanisms where they have not done so.
The following section provide some guidance on the following steps to establish and maintain a national CHM.
Nominate a CHM National Focal Point (NFP)
A CHM NFP is vital for the development and implementation of a national CHM. The CHM NFP is expected to:
- Facilitate scientific and technical cooperation
- Develop national dissemination tools for public education and awareness, and
- Increase the presence and visibility of the country on the international stage.
The role of the CHM NFP is very different from that of the CBD NFP, as indicated in the table below.
|CHM NFP||CBD NFP|
As shown, both CHM and CBD NFP roles are important, time-consuming, and specific in nature. Therefore, it is recommended to have a team instead of a single person.
It is important to identify the right person or partner institution. A survey of national biodiversity actors (scientific institution, museum, university, ...) can be very useful as there may be a strong sustainable existing institution interested in carrying out the role of CHM NFP.
Develop a national CHM Strategy
Prepare a "business plan" for the New CHM
- Institutional arrangements
- Responsibilities & terms of references
- Partnership arrangements
- Staff & office space
- Web site infrastructure
- Web content production & management
- Building national contact network
- Survey of scientific and technical cooperation
- Information gathering & disseminating
- Web site development
- Education & public awareness activities
Establish basic infrastructure & communication facilities
Procuring and maintaining adequate funding for facilities is not easy:
- GEF funding is limited
- Donors insist on sustainability
Therefore, Parties should be creative and explore partnership options:
- Perform a needs-assessment
- Provide a detailed description/justification of needs
- Assess sustainability and funding potential
- Prepare a realistic project proposal
- Contact potential donors
The CBD Secretariat can provide guidance and endorse proposals
Establish a national CHM web presence
National NFPs have different options and factors to consider when establishing a web presence:
For web hosting:
- Build a new or use an existing web site
- Host the website in-house or externally
For managing web content
- Use a tool or a content management system (CMS)
- Directly design and maintain web pages
Important factors to consider are:
- Available resources and expertise
- Impact on maintenance and staffing
- Political considerations
The general guidance is to choose the safest and easiest approach in order to avoid undertaking a big project without adequate resources.
Website hosting options
- Requires a solid infrastructure: Web server + Firewall + High speed Internet + Support 24/7
- Resource and Time consuming, unless you have a special team, but enables greater flexibility
3rd party hosting: obtain space on existing server:
- Research different hosting providers as well as partnerships with relevant institutions (EC, SCBD, etc...)
- Easier technical option (used by many African Countries) and not resource intensive, but less flexible
Web content management
Content Management Systems:
- Does not require knowledge of HTML and coding expertise
- Wide variety of options and systems
- Limited by functionality of system chosen
Direct web page development and maintenance:
- Greater flexibility and control in application development and database management
- requires enhanced web expertise and skills
- Can be resource-intensive and time-consuming
General Website Content
National CHM websites should remain consistent with broader web practices and present information to users in an easy-to-find framework.
General information sections typically include:
- Who we are
- What's new
- Contact us
- General tools
- Search engine
- Feedback form
- Mailing list
- RSS Feeds
- Dynamic web pages & database
- User accounts & secure access
Enhancing web content to share information and knowledge
The ability to consistently and continuously disseminate content is one of the key success factors of national CHMs. This requires a constant effort, and functional and appealing content that is easy to find, up-to-date and useful.
Biodiversity-related information can include:
- Biodiversity in the country
- National Biodiversity Strategy & national reports
- Other national biodiversity-related documents
- Information by Programme areas relevant to the country
A National CHM can facilitate scientific & technical cooperation by:
- Providing a directory of national actors and stakeholders
- Creating linkages with agencies present in the country (UN, EU, Bilateral Cooperation, NGOs, ...)
- Building an inventory of cooperation projects/initiatives
- Publishing requests for support
- Promoting transfer of technology