Environmental indicators are essential tools for assessing environmental trends, tracking progress against objectives and targets, evaluating the effectiveness of policies and communicating complex phenomena to non-technical audiences. The last guide to European Environment Agency (EEA) indicators, published in 2005, focused on the Core Set of Indicators (CSI) (EEA, 2005). Since then, the EEA has published a wide range of assessments based on indicators. In addition, many new indicators have been developed, and the evolving European Union (EU) policy context has created new opportunities for their use.
This report reflects these developments and provides a comprehensive yet accessible guide to EEA indicators. It acts as a reference document and provides an overview of the EEA indicators, placing them in the context of the wider landscape of European environmental indicators. The report highlights the insights that indicators can provide on progress against environmental priorities. In summary, the digest explains 'what we have, why we have it, and how it can be used'.
The report is structured in three sections. The first section describes the European landscape of environmental indicators, i.e. their definition, application and limitations, as well as the main ongoing environmental indicator initiatives in Europe. The next section focuses on EEA indicators, summarising the frameworks and tools used to support indicator developments and describing the range of thematic indicator sets under EEA management. It presents the revised EEA CSI, selected on the basis of their policy relevance and quality. The final section examines policy applications for indicators in the context of cross.cutting, systemic policy challenges, and considers the prospects for future development. This is particularly significant in the context of the EU 7th Environment Action Programme, in effect from January 2014, and the long-standing demands for indicators of environmental sustainability that can be utilised alongside macro-level socio-economic indicators such as Gross Domestic Product and the Human Development Index.