Early in the discussions on the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution it was recognized that a good understanding of the harmful effects of air pollution was a prerequisite for reaching agreement on effective pollution control. To develop the necessary international cooperation in the research on and the monitoring of pollutant effects, the Working Group on Effects (WGE) was established under the Convention in 1980 and held its first meeting in 1981. The Working Group on Effects provides information on the degree and geographic extent of the impacts of major air pollutants, such as sulphur and nitrogen oxides, ozone, volatile organic compounds, persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, particulate matter, including black carbon, and ammonia on human health and the environment. Its six International Cooperative Programmes (ICPs) (on Forests, Waters, Materials, Vegetation, Integrated Monitoring and Modelling and Mapping) and the Task Force on Health identify the most endangered areas, ecosystems and other receptors by considering damage to human health, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and materials. An important part of this work is long-term monitoring. The work is underpinned by scientific research on dose-response, critical loads and levels and damage evaluation.
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The Working Group meets annually to discuss the results of the international programmes and the current and future needs of the Convention. It considers its future work and that of the programmes and prepares a biannual workplan for consideration by the Executive Body of the Convention. Important results are brought to the attention of the Executive Body; they are also published in the scientific literature and disseminated to the public through the publication of reports, UNECE press releases and other means. The Working Group also publishes substantive reports summarizing and assessing the most important results of the activities of the international programmes.
The Working Group has an elected Bureau which is responsible for the detailed planning, coordination and reporting of the activities in the workplan. The Bureau comprises a chair and five vice-chairs.
The Strategy for scientific bodies under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution was adopted by the Executive Body in 2022 (Decision 2022/3) to better serve the work under the Convention.
In order to complete their mission, the science bodies of the Convention seek to develop, maintain and implement methods and tools that support the achievement of goals in the following areas:
(a) Science: to establish sound scientific evidence and provide guidance to underpin, develop and evaluate environmental policies;
(b) Partnership: to foster international partnerships to find solutions to environmental problems;
(c) Openness: to encourage the open use of intellectual resources and products;
(d) Sharing: to share information and expertise with research programmes, expert institutions, national and international organizations and environmental agreements;
(e) Integration: to integrate information on emissions, environmental quality, effects and abatement options, and to provide the basis for solutions;
(f) Leadership: to support the Convention in providing leadership in environmental policymaking at the national, pan-European and global levels.