PROCEDURE FOR HELCOM MONAS BALTIC SEA ENVIRONMENT FACT SHEETS
HELCOM MONAS 7/2004 (paragraph 5.12 (LD 9) of the Outcome of the Meeting) adopted the Procedure for HELCOM MONAS Indicator Fact Sheets. HELCOM MONAS 17/2012 (paragraph 5.37) decided that the "HELCOM indicator fact sheets" should be renamed as “Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets” (BSEFSs) to differentiate them from HELCOM Core Indicators, which are used for follow-up of the Baltic Sea Action Plan.
The procedure for Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets is contained below.
1. General procedures
The HELCOM MONAS Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets are to be developed taking into account the assessment needs of HELCOM and harmonized according to the needs of other international organizations, such as EEA and EU directives.
The target is that HELCOM will have a number of approved Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets available on annual basis at the HELCOM's website. The information contained in the fact sheets forms a fundamental basis for HELCOM other assessment products.
The Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets are produced and updated by responsible institutes. A list of these institutes and data centres providing Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets shall be kept updated by the HELCOM Secretariat and scrutinised by HELCOM MONAS on a regular basis.
2. Guidelines for the Indicator Fact Sheets
The Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheet should be scientifically sound and written in plain English.
The Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheet should be based on time series and trends to greatest possible extent, so that changes in pressures and/or states can be evaluated.
Institute logos can be used to present the responsible institute(s) and data centre(s). Author name(s) should be given so that the sheets can be properly referenced.
The outline contained in Annex 1 should be followed in all fact sheets.
The basic report should be concise and preferably not longer than 5 pages, including figures. Links should be used to other relevant fact sheets or other information sources.
In order to make the Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets clear and reader-friendly, information could be presented, in addition to the basic report, in several linked hypertext documents - most important information on the "front layer" and the secondary information on deeper layers.
The key message should be short and evocative.
Units should preferably follow the International System of Units (SI).
Graphs should be easily readable with proper scales and readable fonts and understandable without confronting the text.
Instead of series of annual maps, a temporal trend index, if possible, should be made and only the map referring to the most recent year should be presented; previous maps could be presented on a second layer of the fact sheet.
Unified division of the Baltic Sea should be used as contained in Annex 2.
3. Reviewing procedure
New Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets must be delivered to the Secretariat, where after a review takes place according to the following procedure:
- national experts appointed by HELCOM MONAS Contacts review the new Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets;
- the Secretariat collect all reviews and communicate these with the authors of the Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets for revision;
- the Secretariat presents the reviewed Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets for consideration of HELCOM MONAS, which decides on their publishing.
Existing Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets may be updated and published on the HELCOM website intersessionally without separate approval by HELCOM MONAS.
Proposals for new Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets should be submitted to the Secretariat by 1 September for the expert review process.
The updated Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets should be submitted to the Secretariat not later than 30 September.
The accepted Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets form a basis for the Summary Indicator Report, to be produced by the Secretariat for approval by HELCOM MONAS.
Indicators simplify a complex reality. An indicator condenses information by analysing data collected in monitoring programmes. Communication is the main function of indicators. Environmental indicators provide information that is needed to mitigate environmental problems; the decision makers (ranging from individual consumers to high level policy makers) should decide to take action or not based on this information. The Ecological Quality Objectives (EcoQOs) should be linked to the indicators: the indicator should show how the EcoQOs are met.
HELCOM indicators should be primarily based on variables in the HELCOM monitoring programmes. Each indicator by itself tells something about the one issue it represents but virtually nothing about the larger features or the system as a whole. When the indicators are combined they can show the conditions and trends of the system (human pressures and impacts on major components of the ecosystem).
The basic aim of HELCOM monitoring and assessment work is to reveal anthropogenic impacts in the marine environment i.e. interactions between human activities and environmental quality. An important aspect is to follow the natural variation of the environment.
The HELCOM indicators can be divided into two categories: descriptive indicators, and performance indicators.
Descriptive indicators exist for all elements in the DPSIR framework, and describe the development of a variable related to an environmental issue. In fact, all indicators are descriptive but not all indicators are performance indicators.
- Performance indicators measure the achievement of stated objectives or with a specific set of reference conditions. Performance indicators relate mostly to Driving Forces and Pressures, sometimes to State.
Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheet
The function of Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets is many fold:
- They will serve as documentation of the indicators used and will be published on the web
- The fact sheets can be used to ensure data quality and to encourage Contracting Parties to update their data;
- HELCOM other assessment products will be based on the fact sheets.
The content of the fact sheets should allow the following general questions to be answered. These questions should be seen as a test that is applied to each fact sheet submitted for review and acceptance by HELCOM MONAS.
- Is the indicator attractive to the eye (accessible)?
- Is the indicator easy to interpret correctly? Does it match the interest of the target audience?
- How is this indicator representative to the issue or area being considered?
- What are the causes behind the development (trends) of the indicator?
- What is the shortest time period required to show change?
- Is there a reference value for comparing changes over time? What is this value? What change could be expected when random errors are considered?
- Is the indicator based on data which are updated at regular intervals?
- Is the data (raw data or indicator data) allowing international comparability? What would make the data non-comparable (differences in National definitions, changes over time to the definition and methodologies, etc.)?
- Scientifically, is the work well done? Is the indicator well founded and of good quality (data & methodology)?
- Is there consensus on the data validity: data collection methods, statistical methods, etc?
Outline of HELCOM Baltic Sea Environment facts sheets
The content of HELCOM Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheets should pursue the following outline.
1. Title of Baltic Sea Environment Fact Sheet
2. Key message
3. Results and assessment
- Relevance of the indicator for describing developments in the environment
- Policy relevance and policy references
- Technical information
- Data source
- Description of data
- Geographical coverage
- Temporal coverage
- Methodology and frequency of data collection
- Methodology of data manipulation
- Quality information
- Strength and weakness (at data level)
- Reliability, accuracy, robustness, uncertainty (at data level)
- Further work required (for data level and indicator level).
DIVISION OF THE BALTIC SEA INTO SUB-REGIONS