Following the successful launching of the Environmental Performance Review (EPR) programme by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for its members in 1991, European Environment Ministers requested UNECE at the Second Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" (Lucerne, Switzerland, 1993) to undertake EPRs in UNECE countries that are not members of OECD.
An EPR is an assessment of the progress a country has made in reconciling its environmental and economic targets and in meeting its international environmental commitments. The EPR is undertaken at the request of a country. Peer review of the report and of its recommendations is carried out by the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy. The main objectives of the EPR Programme are:
• To assist countries to improve their management of the environment and associated environmental performance by making concrete recommendations for better policy design and implementation;
• To promote the exchange of information among countries about policies and experiences;
• To help integrating environmental policies into sector-specific economic policies, such as for agriculture, energy, transport and health;
• To promote greater accountability to other countries and to the public;
• To strengthen cooperation with the international community.
First-cycle EPRs established baseline conditions regarding trends, policy commitments, institutional arrangements and routine capabilities for carrying out national evaluations. From 1994, the first cycle of reviews was performed in 20 countries of the UNECE region: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Second-cycle EPRs assess progress and help stimulate greater accountability. Emphasis is placed on implementation and financing of the environment policy, integration of environmental concerns into economic sectors, and promotion of sustainable development. Since 2000, UNECE has carried out 18 second EPRs.
At the Seventh Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” (Astana, Kazakhstan, 2011), Ministers reaffirmed their support to EPR Programme and encouraged UNECE to pursue with the third cycle. Third-cycle EPRs will include environmental governance and financing in a green economy context, countries’ cooperation with the international community and environmental mainstreaming in priority sectors.
The efficiency and effectiveness of the methodology deployed by the EPR programme have attracted the attention of other bodies inside and outside UNECE, leading to requests for a transfer of know-how from UNECE to other UN regional commissions. At the request of Morocco, UNECE has launched in 2012 the EPR of the country in cooperation with the UN Economic Commission for Africa.