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Frequently Asked Questions
 
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1. How many action plans should be included in the National Implementation Plan?
2. Should priority setting take place for each action plan?
3. Are examples of action plans from already completed National Implementation Plans available?
4. Is there a standard format for an action plan?
5. How can an action plan be updated?
6. What stakeholders might exist outside of government?
7. What stakeholders might exist within government?
8. Would having an action plan goal that is too ambitious for the country's current situation be a problem?
9. Will UNITAR review action plans?
10. Which organisations can I contact if I have questions about an action plan?
11. What is the consequence of not submitting the National Implementation Plan on time?
12. Can I use a different approach to the UNITAR guidance for action plan development?
13. What is the best way to accurately estimate the timeframe for each action plan?
14. Where can I find more information about National Implementation Plans and action plan development?
15. What response should be taken if the action plan goal is not achieved?
16. How can action plans be turned into project proposals?
   
   
   
1. How many action plans should be included in the National Implementation Plan?
The number of action plans that a country undertakes is a decision that can be made by the NIP coordinating committee, with the advice of the project secretariat. In UNITAR's experience, some countries have decided to develop as many as 12 to 13 action plans, while others are developing as few as three. UNEP-World Bank guidance on NIPs recommends the development of some 5-6 action plans, though as many as 17 action plans, strategies and other undertakings that are similar in nature to action plans are called for in the Convention text. UNEP-World Bank guidance on NIPs, Interim guidance for developing a national implementation plan for the Stockholm Convention, outlines 17 possible action plan topics:
  1. Activity: institutional and regulatory strengthening measures
  2. Activity: measures to reduce or eliminate releases from intentional production and use
  3. Activity: production, import and export, use, stockpiles and wastes of Annex A POPs pesticides (Annex A, part I chemicals)
  4. Activity: production, import and export, use, identification, labelling, removal, storage and disposal of PCBs and equipment containing PCBs (Annex A, part II chemicals)
  5. Activity: production, import and export, use, stockpiles and wastes of DDT (Annex B chemicals) if use in the country
  6. Activity: register for specific exemptions and the continuing need for exemptions (article 4)
  7. Action plan: measures to reduce releases from unintentional production (article 5)
  8. Activity: measures to reduce releases from stockpiles and wastes (article 6)
  9. Strategy: identification of stockpiles, articles in use and wastes
  10. Activity: manage stockpiles and appropriate measures for handling and disposal of articles in use.
  11. Strategy: identification of contaminated sites (Annex A, B and C Chemicals) and remediation in an environmentally sound manner
  12. Activity: facilitating or undertaking information exchange and stakeholder
    involvement
  13. Activity: public awareness, information and education (article 10)
  14. Activity: effectiveness evaluation (article 16)
  15. Activity: reporting
  16. Activity: research, development and monitoring (article 11)
  17. Activity: Technical and financial assistance (articles 12 and 13)
2. Should priority setting take place for each action plan?
Priority setting can take place at two different points: before and after action plan topics are decided upon. The first priority setting process should determine which action plans will be developed (e.g. Is DDT use an issue in the country? Does preliminary inventory information indicate that obsolete stocks of pesticides are a problem?); while the second can assist in determining what the overall priorities are within each action plan (e.g. Does the preliminary inventory indicate that PCBs in capacitors are present in large numbers in the country? Is the system to replace PCB oils in the country include (if one exists) a mechanism to ensure that waste PCB oils are not released into the environment?)
3. Are examples of action plans from already completed National Implementation Plans available?
To date, very few countries have completed their NIPs . At present, UNITAR is working with GEF Implementing Agencies to ensure that draft NIPs are publicly available. Please check our website regularly – any NIPs that we are authorised to post will be posted there. NIPs submitted to the Secretariat can also be found here.
4. Is there a standard format for an action plan?
There is no standard format for an action plan. It is up to each country to decide on the contents and structure of their action plans. However, there are certain Convention obligations related to each action plan that we recommend be addressed in order that the action plan can best serve to act as a document that assists the country with Convention implementation. UNITAR, in its training on action plan skills-building, provides a possible format that can be considered (see page 7 of Guidance on Action Plan Development for Sound Chemicals Management). The UNEP-World Bank guidance also offers similar guidance.
5. How can an action plan be updated?
There is no requirement in the Convention to update an action plan, unless it addresses “new” POPs that may be added to the Convention in the future. If this is the case, a Party should revise any relevant action plans that address issues that relate to the new POP. Otherwise, countries may want to update their action plans on a regular basis in order to maintain their relevance as planning documents.
6. What stakeholders might exist outside of government?
A wide range of possible stakeholders might exist outside of government that is relevant to action plan development. This might include, inter alia , industry associations and industrial enterprises; the agricultural sector; retailers and distributors; public health professionals; workers and worker's unions; public interest groups; research institutes and academia; women's organisations; communities; and individual citizens. In Guidance on Action Plan Development for Sound Chemicals Management, Module 1 and Annexes 2A to D provide various details on stakeholder involvement.
7. What stakeholders might exist within government?
Chemicals management is a diverse field, spanning issues of public health, environmental protection, economics, industry, agriculture, workers protection, international relations, and trade. As a result, a wide range of governmental ministries and agencies have responsibilities related to chemicals management. In Guidance on Action Plan Development for Sound Chemicals Management, Module 1 and Annexes 2A to D provide various details on stakeholder involvement.
8.Would having an action plan goal that is too ambitious for the country's current situation be a problem?
Goals, like objectives, should be SMART (see page 22 in Guidance on Action Plan Development for Sound Chemicals Management). Having a realistic goal for the action plan is therefore essential to ensure that the entire action plan will be a reasonable reflection of what needs to be done in the country to implement a particular component(s) of the Convention. However, UNITAR and GEF Implementing Agencies encourage countries to exceed, where possible and deemed appropriate, any goals that are set out in the Convention. For example, Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states have set a goal of 2010 for the phase out of PCBs , while the Convention sets a goal of 2025 to phase out the use of equipment containing PCBs and 2028 for the elimination of recovered PCBs. A 2013 goal may be appropriate, therefore, for SADC countries to consider adopting or making reference to as part of their individual PCB action plans.
9. Will UNITAR review action plans?
UNITAR will review action plans in a strictly informal, general sense – for structure and completeness, but not necessarily for content. With regard to the substantive content of an action plan (e.g. accuracy of technical information), we would suggest that the country's GEF Implementing Agency can give feedback. In addition, and more importantly, it is up to the Conference of the Parties (COP) to determine any possible process for the formal review of NIPs and their constituent action plans, once they are submitted to the Convention secretariat.
10. Which organisations can I contact if I have questions about an action plan?
UNITAR and your GEF Implementing Agency (UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, FAO, and the World Bank) can answer many of your questions.
11. What is the consequence of not submitting the National Implementation Plan on time?
It is up to the Conference of the Parties (COP) to decide the implications. However, as stated in Article 7 of the Convention, each Party shall “Transmit its implementation plan to the Conference of the Parties within two years of the date on which this Convention enters into force for it”. (This includes the completed NIP and its action plans). Considerable GEF resources have been made available to many countries to assist in this regard.
12. Can I use a different approach to the UNITAR guidance for action plan development?
Yes, definitely. The guidance is merely a series of suggestions – it is up to each country to decide whether it is relevant/helpful for them.
13. What is the best way to accurately estimate the timeframe for each action plan?
The relevant Convention goals related to each action plan can greatly assist in this regard, since some of them are time-dependent (e.g. PCBs). For those that are not (e.g. awareness-raising), it is up to each country to decide its own path, and the rate at which it would like to see its goals fulfilled. For action plans that are less technical in nature (e.g. awareness raising and education), we suggest that work can proceed at a steady pace, in accordance with the needs and agreed priorities of the country. Further information on estimating timeframes at the activity and task level can be found in Module 3 of Guidance on Action Plan Development for Sound Chemicals Management.
14. Where can I find more information about National Implementation Plans and action plan development?

The Convention text, and Article 7 in particular, is a good starting point to learning about NIPs and related action plans. Various guidance related to action plan development can be also found on this website. The Stockholm Convention Secretariat's website – www.pops.int – provides additional and wide-ranging information and guidance. For example, see Interim guidance for developing a national implementation plan for the Stockholm Convention and Development of guidance to assist countries in the preparation of national implementation plans. NIPs submitted to the Secretariat can also be found here.

Relevant decisions at COP-1 (as reported by ENB) include: The decision on NIPs (UNEP/POPS/COP.1/ CRP.27/Rev.1) adopts the guidance on the preparation of NIPs, with the addition of specific considerations relevant to the Rotterdam Convention. It encourages governments to use the guidance, and requests then to provide comments to the Secretariat on their experience to allow for updating. The decision further requests the Secretariat to develop a roster of experts, and to develop additional guidance on socioeconomic assessment and calculation of action plan costs, including incremental and total costs. The decision adopts the guidance for the review and updating of NIPs, and requests the Secretariat to further elaborate this process. The decision concludes by requesting the financial mechanism to support regular review and updating of NIPs. Guidelines for the review and updating of national are included in an annex to the decision.

15. What response should be taken if the action plan goal is not achieved?
Countries that are Parties to the Convention need to do all they can (with appropriate external assistance) to meet action plan goals, if they are the same as the Convention goals. Continuous monitoring and evaluation of the action plan as it is being implemented can assist. Such monitoring and evaluation can act as an “early warning system” – so countries can see early on if the goal of the action plan is in danger of not being met, and adjust the action plan as necessary in order to put action plan implementation back on-track. (See also Module 4 in Guidance on Action Plan Development for Sound Chemicals Management).
16. How can action plans be turned into project proposals?
The main content of an action plan can typically provide a solid starting point for development of a project proposal, as they share many common elements. In some cases, an action plan might lead to a series of project proposals. In other cases, one project proposal might address a number of action plans. A particular challenge in developing project proposals is to determine what format/approach is required by donors, and then to fashion the proposals to meet those requirements. International organisations, such as a GEF Implementing Agency, often assist countries in such efforts.

 

 

 

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