Realising the importance of Environmental Information, the Government of India, in December, 1982, established an Environmental Information System (ENVIS) as a plan programme. The focus of ENVIS since inception has been on providing environmental information to decision makers, policy planners, scientists and engineers, research workers, etc. all over the country. Since environment is a broad-ranging, multi-disciplinary subject, a comprehensive information system on environment would necessarily involve effective participation of concerned institutions/organisations in the country that are actively engaged in work relating to different subject areas of environment.
ENVIS has, therefore, developed itself with a network of such participating institutions/organisations for the programme to be meaningful. A large number of nodes, known as ENVIS Centres, have been established in the network to cover the broad subject areas of environment with a Focal Point in the Ministry of Environment & Forests. Both the Focal Point as well as the ENVIS Centres has been assigned various responsibilities to achieve the Long-term & Short-term objectives. For this purpose, various services have been introduced by the Focal Point.
ENVIS due to its comprehensive network has been designed as the National Focal Point (NFP) for INFOTERRA, a global environmental information network of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). In order to strengthen the information activities of the NFP, ENVIS was designated as the Regional Service Centre (RSC) of INFOTERRA of UNEP in 1985 for the South Asia Sub-Region countries.
Programme on Environment Management Capacity Building EMCB of the World Bank
ENVIS (Environmental Information System) has started implementing the World Bank assisted Environment Management Capacity Building Technical Assistance Project (EMCBTAP) since January, 2002 which aims at structuring the ENVIS scheme by extending its reach through involvement of Institutions/Organizations in State Governments, academia sector, corporate sector, NGO sector, etc.
The project also aims at broadening the ambit of ENVIS to include varying subject areas, themes, local conditions, issues, information/data needs of the country pertaining to environment and planned to be achieved through enlargement of participatory Organizations/Institutions, called EMCB-Nodes in various sectors and through introduction of modern means of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This programme is a continuation of the Sustainable Development Networking Programme: India (SDNP-India) programme, funded jointly by the UNDP and IDRC, Canada.
What is ENVIS
Environmental information plays a vital role not only in formulating environmental management policies but also in the decision making process aiming at environmental protection and improvement of environment for sustaining good quality of life for the living beings. Hence, management of environment is key component and thus plays an important role in effecting a balance between the demands and resources available for keeping the environmental quality at a satisfactory level. Realizing such need Ministry set up an Environmental Information System (ENVIS) in 1983 as a plan programme as a comprehensive network in environmental information collection, collation, storage, retrieval and dissemination to varying users, which include decision-makers, researchers, academicians, policy planners and research scientists, etc.
ENVIS was conceived as a distributed information network with the subject-specific centres to carry out the mandates and to provide the relevant and timely information to all concerned. Further, association of the various State Governments/UTs was also felt necessary in promoting the ENVIS network to cover a wide range of subjects. The subject area for States/UTs ENVIS Centres was the status of environment and related issues.
Thus, the network was expanded gradually with the involvement of thematic subject-areas and State Government/UT departments to make it a more comprehensive environmental information network. ENVIS network at present consists of a chain of 67 network partners out of which 39 are on subject-specific and 28 on State/UT related issues. These network partners are called ENVIS Centres and are located in the notable organizations/institutions/State/UT Government Departments/Universities throughout the country.
The focal point of ENVIS is located in the Ministry and assists the Environment Information (EI) Division in coordinating the activities of all the ENVIS network partners by making ENVIS a web-enabled comprehensive information system.