The Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI), in partnership with DE Design + Environment Inc (DE), was awarded January, 2020, by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, to develop and implement the National Environmental Data & Information System (NEIS). Deputy Director at MGI, Dr. Ava Maxam, leads the University of the West Indies’ Mona Campus-based software development team that will develop the NEIS online platform. The Canada-based team from Design + Environment Inc is headed by Mr. David Oswald as the environmental expert on the project.
MGI and DE will work with in-country government representatives of the Department of Environment (DoE) of the Ministry of Health and the Environment, to conceptualize and then implement the NEIS. This online platform will be focused on improving reporting processes to the key United Nations (UN) MEAs (Multilateral Environmental Agreements) for climate change, biodiversity, and land degradation. The NEIS is just one component of Antigua and Barbuda’s larger project entitled “Monitoring and Assessment of Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) Implementation and Environmental Trends in Antigua and Barbuda” – a Cross-Cutting Capacity Development (CCCD) project to help Antigua and Barbuda better meet and sustain global environmental priorities within the framework of national development.
Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements are legal instruments with binding effects on countries that have agreed to become parties. They are also the means by which global agreements and direction can be achieved on critical environmental and sustainable development issues; this includes climate change, loss of biodiversity and the degradation of land.
MEAs are address in 3 broad areas:
- UNCCD – United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
- UNFCCC – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- UNCBD – United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity
MEAs are informed by key indicators, that is, measures of the state of the environment, providing insight into its health, quality and management. Indicators are presented as a statistic or value of the presence or level of the factor affecting the environment. Important global environmental indicators, for example, are: biological diversity, food production, average global surface temperature and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, as well as human population and resource depletion. Capturing, displaying and reporting these indicators will be a vital function of the NEIS.
Small Island Developing States (SIDs) such as Antigua and Barbuda are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, increased frequency of high energy storms, and greater climatic variability. The NEIS will help to synthesize, organize, and present environmental data so that more informed decisions can be made to enhance resilience to these changes.
The objective of the Antigua and Barbuda NEIS is to strengthen national environmental information management systems, further building capacities for the effective management of data and information, in order to catalyse attaining and sustaining obligations ratified by governments under the three Rio Conventions. This is crucial for monitoring progress towards meeting these obligations. MGI has rich experience throughout the Caribbean implementing similar decision support systems such as the Saint Lucia NEIS.
MGI and DE are pleased to have been awarded the NEIS project and look forward to working with the people and the government of Antigua and Barbuda.