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

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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.



Different types of indicators often used in relation to the environment

When evaluating appropriate indicators, it can be helpful to figure out what perspective is represented in the policy and in the metric being considered. Often it is helpful to have a match between these two. One useful categorization is the Driving forces – Pressure – State – Impacts – Response (DPSIR) model (see Figure 9). Figuring out the different aspects of a policy in these terms can often help lead to the matching or development of appropriate types of metrics for measuring progress.


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