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National Activities: France

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Summary Report Submitted by France to the Fourth International Workshop on the CSD Indicators of Sustainable Development
Hosted by the Government of the Czech Republic in Prague
19-21 January 1998

At the beginning of 1997, Corine Lepage, French Minister of the Environment, decided that France should take part in the voluntary national testing of the CSD indicators of sustainable development.

As recommended, a coordinating organization and a national Focal Point have been chosen for the testing process.

Coordinating organization: Ministry of the Environment
Focal Point: Institut Francais de l'Environnement (IFEN) French Institute for the Environment

Mr. Thierry Lavoux, Ms. Cecile Rechatin, or Ms. Cecile Dormoy
1, Boulevard Alexander Martin
Tel. no.: (33-2) 3879-7878
Fax no.: (33-2) 3879-7870

For more information on sustainable development and indicators on National Programme which is just beginning and the French testing of CSD indicators, you may visit the IFEN website at:

The testing process was carried out in two phases:

Technical Test:

  1. Evaluation of the ability of the French statistical system to compile the CSD indicators;
  2. Comparison between National calculation methods and UN specifications;
  3. Evaluation of the quality of the methodology sheets;
  4. Technical Group.

Political Test:

  1. Evaluation of the relevance of the indicators in the national context;
  2. Evaluation of their usefulness for decision-makers;
  3. Political Group.



  • Technical questionnaire
    A standardized questionnaire was prepared, based on guidelines provided by the DPCSD.
  • Statistical experts
    Experts were identified among the national institutions in charge of data
    collection, compilation and analysis;
    The methodology sheets and attached questionnaires were distributed to the experts;
    8 indicators not appraised (not relevant for France or under preparation).
  • Timetable
    Questionnaires sent: March 1997
    Last replies: October 1997

50 experts involved
126 indicators under appraisal

  Statistical experts
  • National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies: INSEE
  • Statistical Departments of different Ministries:
    • Ministry of the Environment
    • Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
    • Ministry of Industry
    • Ministry of National Education
    • Ministry of Health
    • and IFEN
  •      Research Institutes:
    • INRA (National Institute for Agronomical Research)
    • IFREMER (French Institute for Research on Exploitation of Marine Resources)
    • ADEME (Agency for Environment and Energy Management)
    • National Parks
Preparation of the technical questionnaire:
  • The Indicator:
    • Is it routinely compiled in France?
    • Calculation method?
    • Institution in charge of devising?
    • Methodological differences?
    • Other indicators calculated?
  • The data:
    • Institution in charge of the collection?
    • Update Frequency?
    • Quality/Reliability?
  • Assessment of the quality of the methodology sheets
    • Legibility?
    • Level of accuracy?
    • Proposal for modifications?



  • Political questionnaire
    Partial translation of the Blue Book in order to:
    • provide more synthetic information;
    • focus on definition and policy relevance;
    • give the experts an overview of the list of indicators.
    The whole document with attached guidelines for appraisal was sent to the experts.
  • Political expert members of the:
    • French Commission on Sustainable Development;
    • Interministerial group, involved in discussion on SD;
    • Scientific community;
    • NGOs involved in development/environment.

    Experts were expected to:

    • evaluate the relevance of the indicators, regarding National objectives of SD;
    • evaluate their usefulness for decision-makers.
  • Timetable
    Document sent: September 1997
    Last received: November 1997

100 experts involved
134 indicators under appraisal


  •   About 110 questionnaires returned (out of 126)
  •   Identification of groups of indicators:
    • 53 indicators routinely compiled and published in France;
    • 55 indicators not compiled but for which data is at least partially available;
    • 28 indicators close to CSD indicators are proposed.
  •   Questionnaire not adapted for the Institutional indicators
  •   Experts appreciated the efforts made by DPCSD in drafting the methodology sheets...
  •   But underlined the imprecise character of many definitions and technical information.

A high level of data availability
Many methodological differences


  •   Obstacles encountered in implementing the testing phase
    • Difficulties in mobilizing the experts
      (these experts are regularly expected to reply to questionnaires from international organizations, and to many requests on SD issue)
    • Difficulties in assessing the policy relevance of the working list taking into account both: the national and the international contexts (comparability)
    • Difficulties in specifying the relationship between the indicators selected and the National Sustainable Strategy
  •   Main criticisms
    • The non-specific character of the indicators selected in comparison to the definition of SD given as per the Bruntland Report
    • The fact that the structure selected (DF-S-R) does not integrate the different dimensions of SD
    • The low relevance of establishing a single selection of indicators (for all UN Member Countries)
    • The extent of the testing process (7 months' full-time work, 150 experts involved, high cost)


  •  Focal point
    OTED (Tunisian Observatory of the Environment and Development) / ANPE (National Agency for the Environmental Protection)
  •  The contribution made by IFEN and the Blue Plan
    • Financing the programme
    • Following the project through
    • Providing methodological assistance
  •  Timetable
    • Launching meeting in Tunis: December 1997
    • Drafting annual report due to be ready: July 1998
  • Tunisian context
    • Creation of a National Commission on SD (1993)
    • Setting up a National Network on SD (1996)
    • Agenda Med 21 and National Agenda 21 (Preparation and adoption)
    • Participating in Mediterranean Action Plan meetings


Additional Reports