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6-7 May 2019 | Twenty-first session of the Working Group on Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

Countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine

Representatives of the EEA, UNEP, EU environmental agencies and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) countries attended this meeting.

The working group considered the reporting on the SEIS and the SEIS self-assessment exercise (done in 2018) to support a regular process of environmental assessment as captured in the mid-term review following the Batumi Ministerial Declaration (in 2016) and presented to the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy (CEP) in January 2019. The WGEMA participants discussed the design of the questionnaire leading up to the 2020 assessment exercise, building on the lessons learned from the previous cycles in 2016 and 2018. This included revising the set of questions and performance scores and considering comparability issues between the scores of the exercises in 2016, 2018 and the upcoming one in 2020, as well as the distinction between mandatory and non-mandatory questions. The WGEMA members decided to opt for performance scoring to be used in the assessment framework in the final review of progress in establishing the SEIS.

The working group took note of the process for preparation of the next pan-European environmental assessment supported by the SEIS. The decision on the shape and topics of the next report is to be taken by the CEP in November 2019. In view of this, the WGEMA members were invited to provide suggestions for the possible themes and associated products of the next pan-European assessment.

The working group took note of the progress in environmental monitoring and assessment, including institutional and regulatory mechanisms, and infrastructure at the national level.

Key discussion points

1. Adoption of the report of the 20th session.

2. Implementing the mandate and terms of reference.

3. Reporting on the SEIS, to support a regular process of environmental assessment.

4. Regular pan-European environmental assessment and streamlining of regular state-of-the-environment reporting supported by the SEIS.

5. Sharing and integration of economic, social and environmental data with regard to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

6. Guidance and information on environmental statistics and indicators.

7. Progress in environmental monitoring and assessment, including institutional and regulatory mechanisms and infrastructure at the national level.

The EEA expert Ms Jana Tafi informed participants about the progress and results achieved by the ENI SEIS II East project. The EEA is a unique institution in the EU because of its capacity to generate environmental information and knowledge. The EEA, through its activities, supports capacity-building as an evidence-driven process and the transition to a sustainable society. This is in line with international commitments related to the capacity-building, technology and systemic issues targets of SDG 17. There has been good progress in consolidating the cooperation between countries. There have been advances in the project activities involving land, air, water and biodiversity, in the areas of environmental accounting and assessments and of open data policies and reporting processes. Project activities use EEA knowledge and expertise on the best national practices in EU Member States. Countries receive technical assistance, hands-on training and expert visits, and they benefit from sharing of data, to allow harmonisation of their data with international standards. The EEA promotes common approaches to regular environmental reporting (e.g. tools, information systems, regionally agreed indicators and assessment reports).

The EEA expert Ms Galina Georgieva gave an overview of production, sharing and use of UNECE environmental indicators in Eastern Europe and Caucasus. The results of a desk study and a mid-term review on the establishment of the SEIS using the self-assessment questionnaire were presented.

The main findings and conclusions are as follows:

  • There have been continued efforts to harmonise relevant data flows and improve the quality of the selected environmental indicators and underpinning data flows since the Batumi Declaration in 2016.
  • There is a general consistency between national and UNECE indicators included in the review.
  • Most of the seven data flows assessed for the mid-term review are being produced at the national level, with improved availability and accessibility online.
  • There is a wide use of environmental indicators for national state-of-the-environment assessment and reporting.
  • There is effective institutional and administrative capacities at the local, regional and national levels for the establishment of the SEIS.
  • Further efforts are needed to have the SEIS fully in place by 2021.
  • Linkages are needed to other monitoring and assessment processes at regional and global level, including in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as other indicator-based initiatives, e.g. OECD green growth indicators. Synergies are needed between various initiatives supporting the SEIS objectives at national, sub-regional and regional level.

Next steps

The decision list, presentation and further information from the 21st session of WGMEA are available on the meeting page.

Background information

The Working Group on Environmental Monitoring and Assessment was established in 2000 by the CEP, to serve as an instrument for UNECE member states to provide recommendations, propose action plans, and improve coordination of international initiatives concerned with environmental monitoring, assessment and reporting. Read more