Activities  Capacity Building e-learning

In collaboration with the University of Geneva, and co-funded by the Geneva International Academic Network (GIAN), UNEP/GRID-Europe has begun development of improved and interactive capacity building material based on the GEO Data Portal.

This widely used Internet Portal has been developed by GRID-Europe to enable access, display and analysis of key statistical and geospatial data sets in support of UNEP's 'flagship' Global Environment Outlook report series (GEO). GEO is a participatory process for environmental assessment and reporting, aimed at bridging the gap between science and policy decisionmaking. It is UNEP's practical implementation of its mandate to keep the global environment under review, and has resulted in many reports and other publications over the last ten years (

The e-learning activity builds on recognition of the essential role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for disseminating information on the environment and sustainable development for a wide range of audiences, and the need to build capacity, in particular in developing countries. The educational tool is very much in line with the call for strengthened national capacities for data collection, research, analysis, monitoring and integrated environment assessment proposed in UNEP's “Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support andCapacity-building”. At the same time, it responds to the Declaration of Principles of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Phase I (Geneva 2003) and implements a concrete capacity- building activity related to the Plan of Action adopted in Geneva.

The main objective of the e-learning project is to demonstrate how ICTs can improve accessibility to data and information on environment and sustainable development for the general public, using innovative e-learning methods and tools. The immediate outputs of the project are the following:

- one-minute promotional clip, highlighting the major themes and aspects covered by the GEO Data Portal;
- a 12-minute movie, with spoken explanations, showing in detail the use and the full functionality of the GEO Data Portal;
- an interactive exercise, in which the user her/himself can explore some of the capabilities of the GEO Data Portal, by means of listening to the spoken explanations, reading text, hands-on applications and verification of results via a questionnaire.

The material was distributed, tested and discussed during the PrepCom-2 meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (Geneva, 17-25 February 2005). It has also been demonstrated for consideration as a practical tool to be used for UNEP's capacity building activities, as well as for masters and post-graduate courses at the University of Geneva. Based on practical experiences and comments received, further improvements will be made to the training material which then can be considered for use in various training activities in support of the work of UNEP/DEWA and the University of Geneva.

The educational tool below is available on GRID-Europe's website.