EMS in URBIS 2003





What is the EMS Secretariat?

It is an International Secretariat managedby the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).  

EMS started activities in August 1996, from the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office  of IDRC in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The Secretariat provides the coordination of donors to promote the use of best practices in environmental management within this region. During this initial stage, EMS has focussed its activities on the field of managing urban environmental problems through the promotion of applied research with emphasis on strongly holistic and participatory approaches.

The EMS-SEMA has the support of IDRC, IADB, Environment Canada, UNEP and the Ministry of Housing, Land Management and the Environment of Uruguay (MVOTMA).

¿What is an International Secretariat?

International Secretariats are initiatives that are housed eihter at IDRC Headquarters in Ottawa or in one of IDRC's seven regional offices.  Secretariats pool the resources and expertise of various development organizations that share a common goal in program delivery.  IDRC provides a range of support services that are critical to the success of the secretariat.  Althouhg legally part of IDRC, the Centre does not control de program work of the secretariat.  Each secretariat has its ouwn Executive Director and is governed and funded as a collaborative partnership amongst a group of donors.  Secretariats are created to initiate, encourage, support, and conduct research into problems of the developing world and into the means for applying and adapting knowledge to foster sustainable economic and social advancement.  Secretariats can also be established to build capacity in partner institutions and to provide direct assistance for research and development activities within their areas of specialization. 

For more information visit: http://www.idrc.ca/lacro/docs/secretariados_s.html (Spanish)

EMS Mission

The mission of the EMS is to foster a correct environmental management in Latin America and the Caribbean, by providing support in decision making (policy formulation and implementation) in relation to the environmental effects of the different human activities, through a more dynamic relation between research, horizontal cooperation and a growing availability of relevant information.

EMS: Objectives & Challenges

  • to increase the technical capacity of institutions and professionals in Latin America and the Caribbean to identify and assess environmental problems,

  • to improve the decision-making processes for the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, programmes and projects related to environmental management

  • to nourish and develop a market for research applied to environmental management, where the demand aspect is presented by entities whose decisions actually impact the quality of the environment
  • to increase and complement existing initiatives to promote an effective training and networking between technical experts and managers or politicians whose decisions affect the environment through sectoral and local policies, and to favour their interaction with qualified research outlets and with systems for the dissemination of relevant managerial experiences and acquired knowledge.

EMS: Coordination of regional efforts

EMS: Civil Society in urban environmental management

EMS provides cost-effective information transfer on these issues between local governments, research institutions and the civil society, both in the region and in each country. This approach responds to demands for more information/knowledge generated by the transfer of responsibilities following the decentralisation processes of governments in the region. Traditionally, such knowledge and experiences have been sought through observation of procedures followed in developed countries. However, there is today a growing need in developing countries to obtain and consolidate such critical experience more effectively. EMS responds to this need through the promotion of an exchange of experiences between local governments and other relevant social agents in the Latin America and the Caribbean region.

The EMS aims at providing the basis for that regional information "market" in terms of environmental issues and urban development.

The difference between the EMS and other networks in existence lies in the emphasis placed on the interconnection between research and decision-making processes, its approach to a demand-oriented program whose indications on the activity priorities in the region are followed. The strengths of EMS lie basically on its working perspective of a "knowledge system", which implies the participation of the secretariatin cases where:

1) experiences are systemised
2) information and knowledge requirements are identified
3) specific research projects are organised
4) results are made available and promoted using the new information technology ( e.g. the Internet)

There are other networks on issues related to the environmental management of urban problems that work in close contact with the Secretariat by identifying the needs of the region and using and disseminating the products prepared by the Secretariat.

EMS: Research & Development for the Environment

The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are under pressure to improve their environmental management in order to sustain their development and be competitive within a global economy. This will require change in policies, institutions and technologies where an essential ingredient is human resources capable of formulating and implementing appropriate modifications.

Over the past two decades the LAC region has made significant investment in its scientific and technological capability. More importantly, the past 8-10 years have witnessed a process of dynamic institutional change with profound implications for the interface between socio-economic development and the environment. The consolidation of these evolving institutions as effective instruments for managing change, particularly in the environment, provides a challenge and an opportunity to the region's research & development (R&D) sector.

In spite of the advances in this sector, it has yet to establish its relevance or credibility with the existing and emerging institutions which need information on technical and management options for research, evaluation of experience inside and outside the region, and exchange of knowledgeable technicians. As a consequence, this sector is poorly utilized. The demand for its skills, and therefore the market, has not been clearly articulated. Much of the R&D sector continues to operate in isolation from those decision makers who determine the de facto management of the environment.

New information and communication technologies are opening up vast possibilities to effectively bring the R&D sector (particularly universities, independent research entities and NGOs as well as consultants) into closer touch with the perceived needs of clients engaged in use and management of the environment.

Both the supply and demand for research and information exchange are widely dispersed throughout the region. There is a clear need to develop a "market" whereby, on the one hand the demands of clients with a capacity and willingness to pay for information can be transmitted to the independent R&D sector; and on the other, the sector itself can alert clients to the "products" it has to offer.

The underlying premise of this initiative is the view that new information and communications technologies offer greatly expanded opportunities for enhancing the relevance and cost-effectiveness of horizontal cooperation and research in identifying and solving the emerging environmental management issues. These issues are faced by those whose decisions directly or indirectly impact the quality of environment.

The approach is based on targeting a limited set of environmental management (EM) "areas", each made up of a group of decision-makers with common concerns; in effect, they are defined by sectors such as municipal government, central or regional government environmental agencies, or any of the productive and service sectors, for example forestry, mining, fisheries, agriculture or transport. It will be the responsibility of the Secretariat to identify what environmental research plus related information services or other activities are needed, as perceived by actors in the respective areas.

In addition, it is expected that the EMS will develop a capacity to manage the on-line market for research grants on behalf of external donors, and, through the technical backstopping contracts, to undertake quality control and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of activities partially funded through the Secretariat. The focus will be on extending and strengthening market mechanisms as the vehicle for making research more relevant to environmental management decisions in LAC.

How to apply for funding

In a competitive way, donations of up to CAD 20.000 each, to local/municipal governments, through open bids. ( more information here)


Contact: info@ems-sema.org