GRID-Arendal provides environmental information, communications, and capacity building services for information management and assessment. Established to strengthen the United Nations through its Environment Programme (UNEP), its mission is to "make credible, science-based knowledge understandable to the public and to decision-making for sustainable development". The organization strives to maximize the impact of its main product - environmental information - on the broader audience. In this view the benchmarking effort has been made in May, 2000 by launching an internal programme in order to review key issues related to the impact of environmental information on decision-making processes. This information was put together during the workshop and in January, 2001 was summarized in a paper:
GRID-Arendal Occasional Paper No. 1 2001 (pdf 2mb)
IMPACT OF ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION ON DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
After ten years of producing information products, supporting forty governments in preparing national state-of-the-environment reports, and being one of Europe’s leading environmental information web sites, we realised that we still know little about the impact of this huge amount of information on the environment.
Other outputs are available in this section through Other papers and case-studies.
Since then various actions aimed at the increase of the impact, assessment of the clients' needs and customer satisfaction have been taken on a continuous basis.
However, it has become clear that a professional approach to, and continuous advice on, these issues is important to gaining and sustaining further progress. All the results from the last 1.5 years point to the fact that communication is the key element in achieving impact along the chain, it is often under-prioritised within GRID-Arendal projects, and we are critically dependent on PR-type expertise and thinking to be able to incorporate this element systematically into project design and project activities.
This concerns both achieving impact as such, and measuring the results.
Important strategic issues
UNEP or NGO?
We do want our information to work, but not at any cost. Being part of UNEP, we also need to align ourselves with UNEP when expressing ourselves, whereas UNEP itself is strongly interested in profiling environmental cases, building awareness and making information work to improve the global environment.
See also: Notes from 2001 GRID-Arendal advisory panel meeting.
Factory or a switchboard?
Besides being information producers directly, we also create value through networking among and building up other information factories in regions, countries, cities etc.