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Development Account Projects

Strengthening statistical capacity of countries with economies in transition to assess progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goal on Environmental Sustainability and provide data on environmental vulnerabilities

Background:

Sustainable development is defined as development that "meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs". Building upon the UN experience and recommendations, particularly of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UN CSD) many countries in the UNECE region have developed national strategies for sustainable development. However, the relevant indicators for monitoring the achievement of the objectives of these strategies are still missing. These indicators while reflecting national specificities should be brought in line with the recommendations of the UN CSD, and other international agencies, including the joint UNECE/Eurostat/OECD Task Force on Measuring Sustainable Development which has developed a measurement framework and indicators encompassing three pillars of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental). Many of those indicators correspond to the Millennium Development Goals.

The focus of this project is on the environmental indicators, given their importance for ensuring sustainable development and also in the face of the climate change. The capacity of the transition economies in the UNECE region to measure critical levels of environmental capital and establishing early-warning mechanism of upcoming crisis is crucial to ensure the sustainability of their economies and identify vulnerabilities. However, many countries in the region have not developed such capacity and are not able to produce internationally comparable, timely and good quality data.

Execution of the project will contribute to the Millennium development Goal 7 on environmental sustainability, as well as to the implementation of Agenda 21, and the outcomes of Earth Summit (1992) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002).

The project will build upon the statistical capacity building projects of the UNECE Statistical Division already implemented in the EECCA region, the work of the UNECE/OECD/Eurostat Task Force on Measuring Sustainable Development, and the project on developing environmental indicators currently being implemented by the UNECE Statistical Division in collaboration with the UNECE Environment, Housing and Management Division. The project draws on existing knowledge and skills available in the UNECE Statistical Division, the UN DESA Division for Sustainable Development and the UN Statistical Division in the area of sustainable development and environmental indicators. The project will also contribute to the GIVAS initiative as it relates to environmental vulnerabilities.

Objective:

The objective of the project is to strengthen the national capacity of countries with economies in transition (the EECCA countries) to identify environmental vulnerabilities and measure sustainable development.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased national capacity of countries with economies in transition to produce environmental statistical data for identifying environmental vulnerabilities and measuring sustainable development;
  • Increased national capacity of countries with economies in transition to produce statistical indicators for identifying environmental vulnerabilities and measuring sustainable development;
  • Improved national capacity of countries with economies in transition to disseminate and communicate statistical information on environmental vulnerabilities and measuring sustainable development.

Implementation status:

Since 2012, the UNECE Statistical Division is implementing a UN Development Account project on environmental sustainability. A desk study is being prepared, of which two reports we completed – on waste statistics and on measuring sustainable development. Two workshops were organized in 2012: Workshop on Waste Statistics, held from 11 to 13 April 2012 in Geneva, and Workshop on Measuring Sustainable Development, held on 29 October 2012 in Geneva. The Secretariat organized two other meetings to improve statistics on environmental vulnerabilities, evaluating implementation of sustainable development and environmental policies, and assessing compliance with international commitments. The first of the meetings (the 6th meeting of the Joint Task Force on Environmental Indicators) was dedicated to improving environmental indicators related to climate, water and energy consumption. The other meeting focused on climate change as an important aspect linked with environmental vulnerabilities. The project allowed to involve the EECCA countries in these meetings.

The workshop on waste statistics contributed greatly to the improvement of the data on waste and promoted the comparability of waste statistics in the countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia. Countries revised their data to be more in line with the international recommendations. The evaluation questionnaire showed that participants plan to start using the knowledge obtained at the workshop in practice immediately. The European list of wastes and the EU classification of waste categories was translated into Russian which is an important tool for harmonizing waste statistics in the EECCA countries.

The workshop on measuring sustainable development increased awareness and helped build knowledge on a systematic approach to measure sustainable development and environmental sustainability. The conceptual framework promoted at the workshop will allow harmonizing the sustainable development indicators in EECCA countries.

A network of experts has been built up consisting of staff from National Statistical Offices, Ministries of Environment and other agencies involved in environment statistics. This serves to strengthen the cooperation between various government institutions and allows to better organize the work in environment statistics in countries.

The availability of training materials on the websites of the workshops, in particular in the Russian language, helps to spread the knowledge and contributes to the sustainability of the results of the capacity building activities under the project. 

As a side-effect of the workshops, cooperation between the international organizations active in environmental statistics in UNECE region has improved. The close links between experts of the international organizations will allow to address the inconsistencies in definitions and classifications. This, in turn, will make it easier for countries to develop internationally comparable, timely and good quality environmental statistical data and indicators.