Environmental indicators, modelling and outlooks

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High quality environmental information is crucial for implementing effective policy and tracking progress. This includes establishing monitoring, data collection and reporting systems, measuring progress through indicators, performing appropriate analysis, and ensuring well targeted dissemination of information. Pioneer work by the OECD and member countries producing environmental data, reports and indicators has led to common approaches, methods and databases that have become international references. Recent work focuses on material flows and resource productivity indicators.

Measuring progress through indicators: With its member countries, the OECD has developed several sets of environmental indicators to measure performance and inform major issues: the OECD Core Set of environmental indicators, sectoral environmental indicators, key environmental indicators, and decoupling indicators. The indicators have been published regularly since 1991 and support country peer reviews. They are identified using a common reference framework based on the pressure-state-response (PSR) model. The OECD also assists countries in putting in place their own indicator systems.

Providing high quality data: Every two years, the OECD publishes a data compendium on major environmental trends in OECD countries. The compendium is a reference for harmonized international environmental data. The data have been collected from countries via questionnaires and other sources since 1982. After their quality is confirmed with the countries, they support analytical work and country reviews, and are used to develop indicators and outlook studies. The OECD also informs countries about the use of environmentally related taxes, and promotes the establishment of PRTRs.

Improving environmental information systems (EIS): The OECD helps countries improve their EIS by providing advice on coping with the challenges arising from developments in information demands, issuing recommendations (reporting, indicators, information, PRTRs, material flows and resource productivity), assessing countries' EIS (e.g. Bulgaria, Mexico, Russia), and organizing conferences and seminars (environmental monitoring in China, access to environmental information, environmental information in Latin America and the Caribbean).