Using the right environmental indicators: Tracking progress, raising awareness and supporting analysis

Nordic perspectives on indicators, statistics and accounts for managing the environment and the pressures from economic activities

image of Using the right environmental indicators: Tracking progress, raising awareness and supporting analysis

Finding and using indicators that are most suited for tracking progress, raising awareness and supporting analysis is a challenge. Indicators need to be used in appropriate contexts and should ideally be fit-for-purpose. For example, indicators which are best used for awareness-raising cannot be used for monitoring policy goals. This report presents a short review of different indicators typically encountered by environmental policy makers. General advice is provided regarding their uses. In the second part of the report, an overview of the environmental-economic accounting work of the Nordic statistical institutes is presented. Lessons learned from the development of these accounts as well as ideas for future work are described. These types of environmental accounts provide a framework for developing information about the connections between the economy and the environment. The study was commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers and conducted by the national statistical agencies in the Nordic countries, led by Statistics Norway and Statistics Sweden.



Major policy initiatives and resultant indicator sets

There are such a large number and variety of policy initiatives at regional, national, multi-national and international levels that it is not possible to make a definitive list. When some of the larger international environmental and sustainable development related initiatives are examined, there seems to be roughly a ten year cycle for policy initiatives and their related metrics. The impetus seems to begin with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (informal name: Earth Summit) held in 1992 in Rio, continues with the follow-up conferences Rio+10 held in Johannesburg in 2002, and the upcoming Rio+20 to be held in Rio in summer 2012.


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