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Remarkable uptrend in the production and sharing of environmental data in target countries of the UNECE region

Thanks to UNECE and its Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Programme, the global “data revolution” needed to ensure sustainable development and monitor progress in achieving the future sustainable development goals (SDGs) is well under way in the countries of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. This is the key finding of the publication, Progress in the production and sharing of core environmental indicators, published by UNECE this month, which demonstrated that the vast majority of countries in this target area produce data in compliance with international standards and formats agreed in the framework of the UNECE Joint Task Force on Environmental indicators.

UNECE, in collaboration with the European Environment Agency and country donors (in particular, Norway, the Russian Federation and Switzerland), has been working with 17 target countries to produce and share environmental data in areas such as water, air pollution, ozone depletion and climate change. These countries — Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Serbia, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan — are working not just to set up the monitoring and assessment necessary to develop the indicators, but have invested in their verification and online sharing, and are now working to improve the content and user-friendliness of the websites where this information is made available.

The evidence particularly shows that the progress being made in the target countries is picking up pace: between May and November 2014 alone the number of indicators published online has increased by 22.1%.

This positive trend augurs well for the establishment of a regular environmental reporting process at the pan-European level, now in the discussion stage, as well as for countries of the UNECE region to be prepared for the future monitoring and reporting on the SDGs. While more remains to be done to expand the number of indicators being developed and shared, it is clear that the continued hard work of the target countries, as well as the strengthened cooperation of organizations working on environmental data and assessments in the region, will ensure that the establishment of a Shared Environmental Information System in the pan-European region will become a reality.

The publication, Progress in the production and sharing of core environmental indicators in countries of Eastern, South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, is available from http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=38894.