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Fourth National Report: FAQs

This page provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the preparation and submission of Fourth National Reports.

If you do not find your question among the FAQs below, you may use the forum at the end of this page to post a question.

Question 1: What is the deadline for submission of the Fourth National Report?

1 October 2019 – i.e. 12 months prior to the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (COP-MOP). Parties are urged to submit their reports in a timely manner. The Fourth National Reports are the primary source of information for the combined fourth assessment and review of the Protocol and the final evaluation of the Strategic Plan for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety for the period 2011-2020. Late submissions will not be included in the compilation and analysis of the reports to be reviewed by the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) in May 2020. The SBI is expected to submit its findings and recommendations to the COP-MOP for consideration at its tenth meeting.

Question 2: Who is authorized to complete the Fourth National Report online through the BCH?

National Focal Points for the Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH-NFPs), the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB-NFPs) and National Authorized Users (NAUs). For more information on NAUs, please see NAU FAQ. If you are a BCH-NFP and are not sure how to register an NAU to complete the report, please contact us at: bch@cbd.int. Note that only BCH-NFPs can validate and publish the reports once they have been completed by CPB-NFPs or NAUs.

Questions 3: How is the Fourth National Report submitted?

The report is submitted online through a preview version of the new BCH platform that is being developed as part of the migration of the BCH and which is accessible at the following address: Fourth National Report Online Format. This preview version is for the submission of Fourth National Reports only. The regular BCH platform will continue to be used for all other functions until the migration is complete.

The preview version requires log-in with the existing BCH user account. The only menus on the navigation bar that function in the preview version are BCH (Home), Submit and National Reports. The other menus will redirect you to the current version of the BCH.

To start registering/creating the report, perform the following STEPS:

STEP 1: On the Dashboard screen, click on the "+" sign next to, or click directly on, the text: "Fourth National Report on the Implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (NR4)".

STEP 2: Click the "Add New" button on the top right side of the bar. As a result, an Introduction page will be displayed. This page contains guidelines for the use of the reporting format and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

STEP 3: Click on the Submission form tab on the top bar and start answering the Questions which are divided into sections by numbers.

Important: During this process, please periodically save your answers by clicking the "Save Draft" button (located on the top and bottom right side). This action saves your report as a Draft so that you can close it and return to work on it at a later date and time.

Note: The Review tab allows you to review your answers and it will also display all the mandatory questions (only) that have not been completed.

STEP 4: When you are done, to PUBLISH the report - perform one of the following:
  • If you are a BCH-NFP and registered the report yourself: click on the Publish tab and then click the "Publish" button. As a result, the report will be published.

    Please note that, if you click on the Publish tab and you see an "error" message in the Review tab, it means that some mandatory questions (the ones with a red star next to them) have not been answered. Those questions will be summarized and displayed as errors. You need to answer all of those questions as you will not be able to publish your report until all of the mandatory questions are answered!

  • If you are a CPB-NFP or NAU: click on the "Request Publication" button, which will appear only if all of the mandatory questions have been answered. A "Publishing Request" box will appear. Write an additional message, if you wish, and click the "Send Request" button. As a result, an e-mail message will be sent automatically to the BCH-NFP with your request. The report will now have the "Pending approval" status. The BCH-NFP needs to log in and review and publish the report.

  • If you are a BCH-NFP and need to publish the report created by CPB-NFP or NAU: once request for publishing is made, you will receive an automated "publishing request" message at your registered e-mail. Click the button you see in the e-mail message. You will be prompted to log in to the online format with your registered BCH account. Once logged in, you will see the details of the "Publishing Request" and the following buttons: "Approve", "Edit", "Reject" or "Delete". Click "Approve" to publish the report. You can also log in to the online format through the preview online format link. The report will show status as "Pending approval". Click on "Pending approval" and then click the "Approve" button to publish the report.

You are also encouraged to use the offline template/format for the Fourth National Report (available in Microsoft Word format at: Offline template of the Fourth National Report) to gather and organize information prior to online submission. If you need any assistance, please contact us at: bch@cbd.int.

Question 4: How do I submit the report if I have limited Internet connectivity?

In this case, you may submit the completed offline template/format for the Fourth National Report in Microsoft Word format directly to the Secretariat (at secretariat@cbd.int), as an attachment to an e-mail, including a scanned copy of the first page signed.

Question 5: What is the format of the Fourth National Report?

Most questions are in a multiple-choice format requiring only a tick in one or more boxes. Text fields are available so that Parties may provide further details.

Question 6: In what language can I submit the Fourth National Report?

The report may be submitted in any of the 6 official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. On the top right corner of the online reporting format you can select the language in which you wish to submit the report.

Question 7: I have already submitted the Third National Report. Am I required to complete the Fourth National Report as well?

Yes. Decision BS-I/9 requires Parties to submit a National Report every four years. The Fourth National Report is intended to gather important information regarding the effectiveness of the Protocol and progress made in the implementation of the Strategic Plan for the Protocol for the period 2011-2020. The Fourth National Report format consists of a series of questions based on the provisions of the Protocol as well as questions that relate to indicators in the Strategic Plan. All questions listed in the report format contribute to measuring progress against the baseline adopted by decision BS-VI/15, paragraph 2.

The general principles that have been applied in the development of the Fourth National Report are as follows:

a) the improvement of the formulation of questions for their clarity, providing further explanation where necessary and aligning the language with the wording of the Protocol and adopted operational definitions, where applicable;

b) the removal of questions that were redundant or no longer relevant, in particular duplicate questions;

c) the revision of possible responses to some questions to improve the clarity of the answers, in particular answers that contained interval scales that offered more than one possible option;

d) the addition of questions that address mainstreaming biosafety into national biodiversity strategies and action plans, other policies and legislation; and

e) the addition of questions related to liability and redress, in light of the entry into force of the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress.

Question 8: What time period is the report intended to cover?

It is intended to cover the period between the submission of the Third National Report and the date of submission of the Fourth National Report. In the case of countries that became a Party to the Protocol after 31 October 2015 (deadline for submission of the Third National Report) the time period to be covered in the Fourth National Report is the period between the entry into force of the Protocol for that Party and the date of completion/submission of the Fourth National Report.

Question 9: Why am I blocked from answering some of the questions?

Your answer in the preceding question may not require you to complete the succeeding related question(s). Simply proceed to where you are able to continue filling in the questions.

Question 10: What does the red star beside a question mean?

This indicates that the question is mandatory and that you will not be able to publish/submit your report until it is completed.

Question 11: Is my country eligible for UNEP-GEF funding to complete the Fourth National Report?

Please refer to the following notification for further details: Notification.

Eligible Parties may contact:

Alex Owusu-Biney
Portfolio Manager (Biosafety), GEF Coordination
Division of Environmental Policy Implementation
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
P. O. Box 30552 - 00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 7624066
Fax: +254 20 7624041/42
Email: alex.owusu-biney@un.org
Web: http://www.unep.org/biosafety

Questions and Answers

You may use the forum below to post any questions related to the Fourth National Report which were not included among the FAQs above. Kindly note that you must be signed in to the BCH to post questions in this forum. Please create a new thread for each question being asked.

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