National action plans and programmes are key instruments in implementing a convention at the national level. Most plans are developed through a participatory approach involving various stakeholders, including relevant governmental offices, scientific institutions and local communities.
Action plans spell out the practical steps and measures to be taken to effectuate the principles of the convention within a country. They also ensure that the overall strategy of the convention is mainstreamed into the planning and activities of all local sectors whose activities can have an impact on the area covered by the convention.
National reporting is done to provide information on measures taken by a country for the implementation of a convention, and the effectiveness of these measures. Reports usually contain information on national circumstances, vulnerability assessments, financial resources and transfer of technology, education, training and public awareness and policies and measures employed. These measures usually take into account specific national circumstances.
An effective system of national reporting can assist the Conference of the Parties (decision making body) of a convention to:
- Consider the lessons learned by Parties in the implementation of the convention
- Identify gaps in capacity for policy research and analysis at the national, regional and global levels, including technical and financial requirements
- Formulate appropriate requests and guidance to Parties and to its subsidiary bodies, the Secretariat of the convention, the financial mechanism, and other organizations with expertise relevant to the implementation of the convention
Public availability of national reports also assists relevant stakeholders (e.g. intergovernmental agencies, specialist non-governmental organizations and scientific bodies) to formulate focused strategies and programmes to assist their country with implementation. This would help in identifying common issues to be addressed and facilitating the development of cost-effective and mutually-supportive initiatives for implementation.