Independent Environmental Monitoring Ends Decades of
Government Control of Information About Pollution, Provides
Open Access to Information, and Enables Victims to Become
Monitoring Network Program Goals
Technical Support for Network Members
How to Join the Monitoring Network
How to Organize Public Environmental Monitoring
1. Increasing Public Access to Environmental
Environmental information has traditionally been difficult to obtain in many countries. Much of the equipment in official hands is not used because of lack of necessary supplies. Even when official environmental monitoring data is gathered, it is selectively shared with the public. If citizens are to protect themselves, they must have the opportunity to independently gather information about their environment.
2. Empowering NGOs
Providing monitoring equipment to the NGO community helps to institutionalize checks and balances in the environmental policymaking realm, where knowledge is power, and lack of information is a path to victimization. Unless they have access to independently gathered monitoring data, NGOs are likely to be discredited or ignored.
3. Supporting Informed Policy Making
Citizen's have traditionally been forced to use their senses of sight, smell and taste as a means of assessing the seriousness of pollution problems. This is both dangerous and unreliable. When public concern focuses only on highly visible problems, policy making is often directed away from invisible and sometimes more dangerous threats. Rational utilization of scarce economic resources requires shifting to a scientifically informed decision making process, where environmental solutions are prioritized according to their ability to protect human life and the environment.
4. Supporting Democratization By Encouraging
Cooperation Between NGOs and Local Governments
When citizen groups acquire monitoring capabilities, they become attractive and effective partners for local and national governments. This process promotes decentralization and provides an open pathway to broader public participation in decision making.
5. Providing Regional Monitoring Potential
A network of non-governmental organizations, using identical equipment and measuring procedures, provides the ideal opportunity for measuring ecological impacts that cut across national boundaries.
6. Encouraging Concrete Solutions to Local and
Regional Environmental Problems
All of our environmental monitoring projects start with concrete solution- oriented goals in mind. By using global electronic mail networks and data bases focused upon environmental health effects, ECOLOGIA supports monitoring efforts from the data interpretation stage to the solution planning stage. To maintain and enhance their credibility and support, NGOs must do more than document problems. They must propose and carry out solutions.
7. Replicating the Model Within Government
Where possible, ECOLOGIA works with international agencies and local government authorities, to provide technical assistance and training. ECOLOGIA staff, working with UNICEF, have trained more than a dozen local government officials in Central Asia. Parallel monitoring efforts encourage cooperation between governments and NGOs.
Since 1991, ECOLOGIA has been operating an environmental water
monitoring network which provides Non-Governmental Organizations
(NGOs) with training and equipment which they can use to carry out
their own environmental monitoring projects.
Qualified monitoring network members are provided with a portable
battery operated Hach spectrophotometer and a budget for purchasing
chemical reagents needed for special projects. Since 1995, ECOLOGIA
has added portable air pollution monitoring capability to the program at
The spectrophotometer arrives equipped with chemical reagents needed
for 29 common water quality tests. It can perform over 100 tests
including those for heavy metals, nitrates, and phenols. Many of the
testing procedures meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
This equipment has been certified by the Russian government laboratory
in St. Petersburg as meeting Russian standards for test quality.
All network participants attend equipment training workshops and are
provided with additional technical support as they work on projects
in their home regions.
Building on Independent Expertise
Good public policy requires good scientific foundations. Members of the NGO monitoring network are highly qualified independent scientists. In addition, network members have equally impressive credentials as policy makers and problem solvers who work closely with their communities.
Participation in ECOLOGIA's monitoring network depends upon:
One or more monitoring network stations have been established in each of the following countries: