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e-democracy, e-participation and e-environment

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E-DEMOCRACY AND E-ENVIRONMENT: REALITY AND CHALLENGES FOR E-ENVIRONMENT IMPLEMENTATION IN EUROPE
Jiří Hřebíček 1 , Rudolf Legat 2

Abstract The White Paper on eEnvironment introduced the content of eEnvironment at the Ad hoc Committee on eDemocracy of the Council of Europe (CAHDE) in 2007. The Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)1 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member states on electronic democracy (e-Democracy) specified eEnvironment in more detail. The objective is that any citizen can be informed about environmental matters and can use this information for active participation in decision making and environmental protection. Now, eEnvironment is one of the pillars of eDemocracy and a member in the “eFamily” like eParticipation and eGovernment. The paper describes the reality and challenges for eEnvironment implementation in Europe.

1. Introduction
Current understanding of sustainable development includes the preservation of the environment. This is a precondition to the development of our societies and eEnvironment will play a major role. The idea of eEnvironment (firstly considering only Electronic access to Environmental information) was presented at the second Ad hoc Committee on E-Democracy of the Council of Europe (CAHDE) plenary meeting, which was held in Strasbourg on 8-9 October 2007, in the White Paper on eEnvironment [9]. In this paper eEnvironment was introduced as one of the pillars of e-Democracy, based on the Aarhus Convention and INSPIRE directive. Communication COM/2005/0229 final: i2010 – A European Information Society for growth and employment was launched by the Commission on 1 June 2005 as a framework for addressing the main challenges and developments in the information society and media sectors up to 2010. One of the objectives was to establish a Single European Information Space 3 offering high-bandwidth communications, rich content and digital services with a market-oriented regulatory framework. The creation of the Single European Information Space means addressing the challenges posed by digital convergence. This convergence is to telecommunications what globalisation is to trade - an issue that will affect everything governments do. Thus it will provide a general ICT framework for eEnvironment and eDemocracy. The Single Information Space in Europe for the Environment (SISE) was introduced by Weets [14] in 2007 with the idea that it will be an information space in which environmental institutions, service providers and citizens can collaborate or use available information
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Institute of Biostatistics and Analyses, Masaryk University, Kamenice 126/3, 625 00 Brno, Czech Republic, e-mail: hrebicek@iba.muni.cz 2 Umweltbundesamt GmbH,Spittelauer Lände 5, 1090 Wien, Austria, e-mail: rudolf.legat@umweltbundesamt.at 3 http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/eeurope/i2010/single_infor_space/index_en.htm

information and analyses for a wide range of eEnvironment users.thegigasforum.jrc. multi-disciplinary data acquisition. thereby stimulating data integration into innovative value-added Web services [11].e-envi2009.europa. which promotes the coherent and inter-operable development of the GMES. 2009 [3]. Thus.info/ 7 http://www. protocols. near-real-time environmental data.168 e-democracy and e-environment without technical restraints. pooling and sharing. INSPIRE and GEOSS initiatives through their concerted adoption of standards.eu/environment/seis/ http://inspire.Opportunities of SEIS and SISE: Integrating Environmental Knowledge in Europe 8 in Prague on March 25-27.eu/ 10 http://www. multi-scale.org/ 8 http://www.earthobservations. was assigned the task to coordinate user requirements and identify and develop services relying both on in-situ and remote sensing data needed for eEnvironment. The development of SISE is essential for the support of the development of implementation information and communication technology (ICT) tools for the SEIS. Furthermore. The Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE) 5 initiative of the Commission provides a standardisation basis for eEnvironment. The end result of GEOSS will be to provide a global public infrastructure that generates comprehensive. The Commission proposed a Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) 4 in its Communication COM(2008) 46 final in 2008. whereby it provides the technological and organisational basis for eEnvironment [7]. there are many projects which are now in progress and which were presented during the European conference of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU: Towards eEnvironment . with the aim of enhancing the relevance of Earth observations to global issues.org 9 http://www. Examples are: the GIGAS 9 project. it would allow for service-chaining on the Web. so that they can better understand each other and make environmental and security-related information available to the people who need it through new enhanced ser-vices. The more detailed aims of the SISE were formulated by Schouppe [13] as an ICT research vision for real-time connectivity between multiple environmental resources which would allow seamless cross-system search. and open architectures. which seeks to connect the producers of environmental data and decision-support ICT tools with the end users of these products. intending to trigger the creation of a European spatial information infrastructure that delivers to the users integrated spatial information services.gmes. GMES realisation could substantially support the development of environmental data monitoring tools for SEIS in collaboration with the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) 7 . a support action in the area of “ICT for Environmental Sustainability Research” with the mission to better network national and international environmental research programmes and build up a webbased information system for access to the contents of environmental informatics literature 4 5 http://ec.eu . The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES)6 initiative of the Commission represents a concerted effort to bring data and information providers together with users.ec.europa. itself an important user of GMES. The Commission. To support the ambitious efforts of SISE and SEIS.ict-ensure.eu/ 6 http://www. as well as crossborder. the ICT-ENSURE 10 project.

with the consolidation of existing good practices and implementing a bi-directional local-global approach. processed. eEnvironment as the subset of a Single European Information Space. The NESIS Network leverages the existing EIONET Community 12 .europa. GMES. From a nowadays perspective. which is intended to bridge the gap between the ICT domain and the public authorities mandated to create. INSPIRE. NESIS 11 . by using INSPIRE standards and Aarhus Convention clearing house ideas. GMES and GEOSS. and GEOSS in the sense of a partnership would be worthwile for a certain fulfilment of i2010 strategy.eionet. and thus allow an active participation of citizens in decision making in matters of environmental protection and sustainable growth.e-democracy. INSPIRE and GEOSS dominates compared to SISE developments. collected.nesis. It is also shown how the i2010 strategy and SISE with synergies of SEIS. as well as the challenges and directions of eEnvironment development are discussed. SISE.eu/ . GMES and GEOSS In the paper an outline of eEnvironment is given. SISE with SEIS and INSPIRE. evaluated and visualised data. The challenges of 11 12 http://www. The plan to provide eEnvironment communication to all citizens of the EU in a Single European Information Space will enable citizens to be informed about environmental matters and to use monitored. some 900 experts from over 300 agencies and other bodies in 38 countries.e. GMES. SEIS. we can think of the Single European Information Space as an “onion concept”. Single European Information Space SISE SEIS GMES GEOSS eEnvironment Figure 1.eu/ http://www. and GEOSS with respect to eEnvironment. e-participation and e-environment 169 and programmes and to ICT relevant sustainability research. i. We will try to outline synergies of the i2010 strategy. manage and exchange environmental information. The paper stresses clearly that collaboration of SISE with SEIS. Its history is presented and problems. information and knowledge. are aiming for a European ICT infrastructure for eEnvironment in which environmental data and information will be combined with knowledge for decision support to foster environmental protection and sustainable development at Europe. with lots of layers and eEnvironment being part of all of them (Figure 1). Today the development intensity of SEIS. This brings an impulse for new progress in the area of eEnvironment. GMES. and discuss eEnvironment objectives as well as the challenges of its development.

the Parties to the Convention set 13 A glossary explaining terms relating to e-democracy as used in this recommendation is available at http://www. where it is described in the Sectors on e-Democracy under items 87-89: • eEnvironment includes the use of ICT-based systems for access to and the dissemination of environmental data and information as well as the establishment of ICT-supported monitoring systems and repositories for environmental knowledge.int/democracy 14 For Recommendation 249 (2008) and related documents see: http://wcd. eEnvironment thus makes it possible to forecast and monitor the impact of natural and man-made factors and other pressures on the environment.” This principle is specified in greater detail in the Explanatory memorandum to Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on eDemocracy.unece.org/env/pp/documents/cep43e. and the sustainable use of natural resources. more widely disseminated knowledge base. It also includes Principle 40 of e-Democracy for eEnvironment: “eEnvironment is the use and promotion of ICT for the purposes of environmental assessment and protection. Madrid). the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe adopted a report and recommendation on “Electronic democracy and deliberative consultation on urban projects” 14 .org/env/pp/ . 2.170 e-democracy and e-environment eEnvironment are discussed to identify similarities and disparities between the important objectives as stipulated by the Council of Europe for e-Democracy. The Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)1 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member states on electronic democracy (e-Democracy) of 18 February 2009 took into account the presentations and discussions at the Council of Europe symposium on “e-Democracy: New Opportunities for Enhancing Civic Participation” (23-24 April 2007). • The UNECE Convention 15 on Access to Information. It determines 72 principles. spatial planning. the CAHDE workshops in 2007 and 2008 on regulatory issues arising in connection with eDemocracy (London. and includes public participation. and to determine the current state of the environment. • Spatial planning and spatial cohesion are both basic components of the eEnvironment field.coe. Madrid).int/ViewDoc. and as such constitute major challenges for nation states and regional and local authorities. Public Participation in Decisionmaking and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention) includes provisions calling on contracting parties to use electronic information tools to provide public access to environmental information.unece. To this end. Using ICT to introduce or enhance public participation can improve democratic governance in respect of environmental issues. rules and regulatory frameworks of e-Democracy 13 in the Appendix to Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)1.coe. http://www. which are designed to apply to e-Democracy the democracy and human rights principles established. comprehensive e-Parliament (Vienna) and academic advice on standard-setting in e-Democracy (Vienna. inter alia. which in turn makes it easier to formulate potential responses because it is possible to draw on a broader.pdf.jsp?id=1278871&Site=Congress&BackColorInternet=e0cee1&BackColorIntranet=e 0cee1&BackColorLogged=FFC679) 15 http://www. by existing Council of Europe instruments and other international instruments. In May 2008. The Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation on e-Democracy sets out recommendations. eDemocracy & eEnvironment The White Paper on eEnvironment [9] was based on the principles described in [2] and modified in [4]. Krems. principles and guidelines concerning e-Democracy.

0. institutional development and capacitybuilding on national level. It will be composed of web-based national content registers providing access to the information at national level.2005. is currently preparing a legal proposal focusing more specifically on modernising the way in which the information required by the various reporting obligations and contained in existing EU environmental legislation.unece. from the local level to the global level.org/env/documents/2005/pp/ece/ece. in an interoperable way and for a variety of uses [1]. The INSPIRE initiative (Directive 2007/2/EC) plays a very important role in the development of SEIS as a standardisation basis for eEnvironment. As announced in the Communication COM(2008) 46 final. 2007/2/EC “Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community (INSPIRE)” together with the Communication from the Commission to the Council.e-democracy. Current state of eEnvironment implementation The basic foundations for eEnvironment as mentioned above have been implemented as European Union (EU) legislation by the following Directives: 2003/4/EC “Public Access to Environmental Information”. etc. and a web-portal operating at EU level and use in an implementation of eEnvironment principles. organizational and implementation basis for eEnvironment [7] and we will shortly explain their role in eEnvironment. The proposal will offer a legal basis for an integrated and sustainable EU-wide eReporting System which will be built as a partnership between the European Institutions (Commission/EEA) and the Member States. Member States of EU will have the flexibility to build their national registers on a centrally operated 16 Recommendations on the more effective use of electronic information tools to provide public access to environmental information adopted by the Parties to the Aarhus Convention in Paris in June 2005 specified: general policy. These services should allow the users to identify and access spatial or geographical information from a wide range of sources.pp. the Commission in collaboration with the Member States and the European Environment Agency (EEA). particularly Internet technology like Web 2.add. They were intended as guidance for the implementation of the Aarhus Convention's provisions on electronic access and participation at national level. priority categories of environmental information. intending to trigger the creation of a European spatial information infrastructure that delivers to the users integrated spatial information services. is made available. the European Parliament. It is available at http://www. 2003/35/EC “providing for Public Participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment and amending with regard to public participation and access to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC”. and the clearing-house mechanism.mp. The concept for the EU eReporting system is based on the SEIS principles of a decentralised system and builds on the experience with the implementation of the INSPIRE Directive 2007/2/EC and the US EPA eReporting System.e.2. the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions COM(2008) 46 final: Towards a Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS). e-participation and e-environment 171 up a task force to facilitate implementation of the Convention through the effective use of electronic information tools designed to provide public access to environmental information 16 . 3. 2003/98/EC “Re-use of Public Sector Information”. These documents provide the legislative.4.pdf . This is to be achieved by taking advantage of modern ICT tools. It follows from the above Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)1 and Explanatory memorandum that the principles of eEnvironment are in compliance with the vision of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the role of eEnvironment in e-Democracy [6].

GMES will improve citizens’ safety in many ways. These services should allow the users to identify and access spatial or geographical information from a wide range of sources. in an inter-operable way and for a variety of uses. make use of already existing eReporting infrastructures. The SEISnet Community 17 in ePractice 18 web portal was established in 2008 with the aim to provide environmental information providers and users with a communication platform where members may share opinions. establishing a European capacity for Earth Observation and monitoring the state of the environment and anthropogenic impacts. and how this might influence humans and their daily lives. by providing appropriate information on natural disasters such as forest fires or floods. ease the flow of transportation. [12]. in EU members states. COM(2008)748: GMES: We care for a safer planet. GMES issued from Communications between the Commission and the Council as well as the European Parliament: COM(2001) 609: Outline GMES EC Action Plan (Initial period: 20012003). as appropriate and to the extent possible. It follows from the Explanatory memorandum to Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)1 that eEnvironment also has a worldwide dimension as regards the monitoring and sharing of environmental data and information.eu/community/seisnet http://www.172 e-democracy and e-environment content repository or to interconnect existing national environmental information systems and content repositories held in various locations. COM(2005) 565 final: From Concept to Reality. e. shape an Environment Community in Europe. The purpose of GMES is to monitor environmental data and information.g. The very important role of eEnvironment started in 2001 with the European Initiative Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). monitor technology evolution. the collection. promote consensus on standards. The implementation of the SEIS shall.earthobservations. In this way. plan our cities and prevent urban sprawl. analysing and reporting environmental data and information. GEO is a 17 18 http://www. through web-based data sharing and interoperability [10]. demonstrate the benefits derived from modern shared environmental information systems and eEnvironment services and promote innovations for eEnvironment /eParticipation services.epractice. COM(2004) 65 Final: Establishing a GMES capacity by 2008 . and provide it to citizens to help them to understand better how and in what way the Earth may be changing. monitor the quality of our waters and air.(Action plan 20042008). exchange and use of the environmental data and information required for the design and implementation of European and national environmental policies. why this is happening. coordinated by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) 19 to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). GMES will be able to improve the management of our natural resources. optimise our agricultural activities and promote renewable energy. to modernise and simplify. thus helping prevent the loss of lives and large-scale damage to property.eu/ 19 http://www. identify and spread best practices. both at EU and Member states levels.shtml . The purpose of SEIS is in particular to improve and streamline the European system for collecting. from the local level to the global level. COM(2009)223: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Earth observation programme (GMES) and its initial operations (2011–2013). SEIS will be based on ICT tools such as the Internet and satellite systems and thus will make environmental data and information more readily available and easier to understand for policy makers and the public.epractice.org/about_geo.

GMES and GEOSS providers and its users.earthobservations. including civil society and private sector institutions. store and disseminate environmental data. SEIS. agriculture and biodiversity. • Establish one-stop access point(s) for citizen and related eGovernment services. The GEO 2009-2011 Working Plan 21 specifies how to build GEOSS in its Societal Benefit Areas. information. energy. promote access to electronically stored environmental information by establishing and maintaining community web access points. could take full advantage of international open standards. Each of its elements has been contributed by GEO Members and Participating Organizations. • Develop human capacity for the use of ICT tools of SISE. e-participation and e-environment 173 voluntary partnership of governments and international organizations. Their commitment and generosity in assuring its operation and continuity will remain vital to the success of GEOSS.pdf . GEO is constructing GEOSS on the basis of a 10-year implementation plan 20 (2005-2015).pdf http://www. collect. It will include generic semantics frameworks and dynamic ontology services for the discovery of and access to distributed environmental resources in a multilingual multi-domain context. tools and services available through the GEOSS. GEO’s Members include 79 Governments and the Commission. GMES and GEOSS for environment-related data. including specific training programmes linking the use of ICT tools to the promotion of good environmental governance in EU member states. which defines a vision statement for GEOSS. GMES and GEOSS to promote the implementation of eEnvironment through comprehensive and forward-looking training and education strategies for public officials. 56 intergovernmental. • Promote the Commission’s efforts to develop the institutional capacities of public authorities to monitor. services and knowledge and develop and apply comprehensive ICT tools of eEnvironment. to permit an easy discovery of environmental service nodes on the web and their adaptive chaining (or composition) on demand. user-friendly and easily transferable formats (as standards) of SISE. A Common Infrastructure allows the user of Earth observations to access. search and use the data. expected benefits.org/documents/work%20plan/geoss_roadmap_d05_a4.earthobservations. In addition. its purpose and scope. water. as well as the availability. 4. international. 20 21 http://www. and regional organizations with a mandate in Earth observation or related issues have been recognized as Participating Organizations.org/documents/work%20plan/geo_wp0911_rev1_090113. information. • Promote the involvement of different stakeholders representing both SEIS. information. organize. of environmental information and knowledge to the public. • Ensure the availability of commonly readable. weather. This will entail following challenges and tasks: • Establish eEnvironment national/regional environmental information web centres in the Member States of EU or equivalent sources of information as the part of SEIS that will stimulate and promote public access to information and public participation in environmental decision-making. services and knowledge in an easily accessible and user-friendly manner in GMES. SEIS. ecosystems. climate. Challenges of eEnvironment The development of an ICT infrastructure for eEnvironment. in the development and use of ICT tools with a view to improving the accessibility. health. and the nine “Societal Benefit Areas”: disasters. with coordinated input from the relevant public authorities and/or linkages to other similar sites.e-democracy.

as integrated information from various environmental impacts (related with economic and social items) will be available on real-time. local). it will be a substantial contribution of Europe to global ICT tools under development (in i2010 goals implementation) in order to support global governance for sustainable development. which will serve also as the national node of the SEIS clearing-house mechanism. it is stipulated in the Directive 2003/35/EC: “Effective public participation in the taking of decisions enables the public to express. GMES and GEOSS can be seen as advanced associated partners who are on the right track for implementation of eEnvironment in practice. SEIS and GMES in the sense of a European Member States partnership would be worthwhile for eEnvironment development. Develop methods and protocols for service chaining in SISE and for the management of the effects of uncertainty propagation through service chaining. and for providing the necessary information for the central node of the clearing-house mechanism at EEA. • Designate national/regional contact points in SEIS and GMES responsible for collecting. The paper introduces how the i2010 strategy and SISE with synergies of SEIS.174 e-democracy and e-environment • Maintain a national SEIS web site with data and information related to the nationwide implementation of eEnvironment. Therefore. It will boost competiveness and innovation of European ICT industry. 5. INSPIRE. such as is done in the GEOSS. regional. and • Develop capacity for public officials managing and updating information for the national node of SEIS. Information is the currency of democracy. The eEnvironment will contribute to high quality information and services provision and it will thus provide Europe's backbone infrastructure for eGovernment / eParticipation / eDemocracy services in the Environment. INSPIRE. To achieve effective public participation in the decision-making affecting the environment. and undertake to disseminate information to the public on the clearing-house mechanism. managing and updating the information contained in the national node and for providing the necessary information for the central node of the SEIS clearing-house mechanism at EEA. GMES and GEOSS are aiming at a European ICT infrastructure for eEnvironment in which environmental data and information will be combined with knowledge for decision support to foster environmental protection and sustainable development. which will be included into the ICT infrastructure for eEnvironment. Finally. and the decision-maker to take account of opinions and concerns which may be relevant to those decisions. 6. the public must have access to environmental information. The paper stresses clearly that collaboration between SISE. thereby increasing the accountability and transparency of the decision-making process and contributing to public awareness of environmental issues and support for the decisions taken”. it will also provide a powerful ICT tools to support rapid knowledge-based decision making for sustainable development at all levels (national. data services and knowledge at every Member State of EU in the framework of eDemocracy/eGovernment/eParticipation. Conclusions In this paper an outline of eEnvironment is given and the problems. Acknowledgement . SISE together with SEIS. as well as the challenges and directions of its development are discussed.

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