As a voluntary exercise, the Environmental Performance Review (EPR) is undertaken only at the request of the country itself.
It starts with an agreement on the structure of the report between ECE and high officials of the candidate country. The assessing team is made up of experts from all over the ECE region, and is flexible to meet the needs of the reviewed country. This team meets with national experts to discuss the problems encountered in the areas of environmental management and integration of environmental considerations in related economic sectors in their country. The team’s final report contains recommendations for further improvement, taking into consideration the country’s progress in the current transition period. Peer review of the report and its recommendations is carried out by the ECE’s intergovernmental Committee on Environmental Policy (CEP). The EPR process consists of:
The process begins when a country requests ECE to undertake a review. The decision to proceed with a specific country is taken by the CEP. Guidance is provided by the ECE Expert Group on EPR (EPR Expert Group).
During a preparatory mission to the country, ECE consults with the country to be reviewed on the structure of the review. The secretariat subsequently assembles a review team, which typically includes experts from North America, Western Europe, and countries-in-transition as well as expert staff of ECE, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization’s European Centre for Environment and Health.
Once preparation is completed, the expert team travels to the country under review and meets with representatives of the government at national and local levels, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The focus of discussion is on the evaluation of environmental performance. Participation of reviewing country experts in the teams themselves also brings invaluable experience.
At the end of the review mission, the international team prepares a series of chapters that are edited and compiled into a draft EPR report. Chapters contain both descriptive text and a series of recommendations on ways to improve problem areas.
The final draft is submitted to the EPR Expert Group.
The second review is the Expert Review, carried out by the EPR Expert Group. Unlike the teams of experts assembled for the review mission, the members of the Expert Group are appointed by the ECE CEP.
During the Expert Review, the members of the Expert Group review the draft EPR report, with particular attention given to conclusions and recommendations. Experts from the reviewed country (national experts) are invited to participate in this meeting and to interact with the EPR Expert Group. At the end of this Review, the report is amended, as decided by the EPR Expert Group, in consultation with the national experts. This amended EPR report is then forwarded to Governments in the CEP.
The third review is the Peer Review, carried out by the member States in the CEP. It is called a Peer Review because it is a review of one country by other countries, that is, a review among equals. During the Peer Review, countries focus on some of the major policy issues that have arisen during the EPR.
At the conclusion of the Peer Review, the CEP adopts the conclusions and recommendations of the EPR report, with amendments, if any. The report will then be finalized and submitted for publication.
Publication of the completed report is the last step of the review process. Updated facts and figures are requested from the reviewed country. The Secretariat incorporates these changes, together with possible changes in line with the conclusions of the CEP. The reports are aimed first at decision-makers, but they are also directed to a wider audience (general public, NGOs, industry, government at different levels) in the country under review and in other interested countries.
Upon request of the reviewed country, a launch is organized to present the findings of the report to the governmental authorities, international community, NGOs and other stakeholders. The launch event is usually well attended by media. The event allows the national environmental authority to draw attention to most pressing environmental issues highlighted by the EPR.