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Research contributions for assessment of the state and evolution of the global environment

Workshop over mogelijke onderzoeksbijdragen van onderzoek aan de wereldmilieuverkenning

Synopsis

A Global Environment Assessment workshop was held in Brussels on September 15 and 16, 1998. During the preparation of policy-oriented reports of GEO, several gaps in data and expertise had been identified. The workshop elaborated on the issues where gaps had been signalled aimed to bring together scientists from different disciplines, representatives of DG-XII and specialists from RIVM in integrated environmental assessment to locate information missing in UNEP's studies and make progress in filling up gaps. Research needs would be identified. The specific issues were categorised as: land-related issues, urban environment and implementation of policies. The workshop participants were able to identify several links between the activities for GEO and ongoing research in the context of the EU Research, Technology Development and the Demonstration programme. About 15 more specific research needs were formulated. For land-related issues, the following knowledge gaps and research implications were identified: 1) e.g. social and economic expertise in land-use analysis, 2) e.g. land-use planning and urban land use in integrated assessment, 3) modelling land degradation, and 4) modelling the driving forces of land degradation. For the urban environment, the major knowledge research areas identified from an integrative perspective were: 1) defining a core set of indicators for sustainable urban development, 2) quantifying the interlinkages between environmental stress and human health, 3) describing the effects of measures, 4) determining the role of institutional structures, and 5) ensuring data provision based on the physical city. Major problems were identified for implementation of policies that the degree of policy implementation is not often measured and that it is difficult to relate policy actions to changes in environmental pressures. In analysis it is first of all necessary to identify which definition of effectiveness will be used, since different indicators will be employed to measure performance. Research implications included: 1) defining a conceptual framework for analysis, 2) developing an approach to assess effectiveness of indirect policies, 3) analysing the effectiveness of multilateral environmental agreements, 4) operationalisation of portfolio indicators and 5) developing tools for communication of results to policy-makers.
 

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