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For environmental issues to be appropriately integrated nationally and subnationally, a method of analysing and recording environmental performance is required. The Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) component of the CEP-BCI has addressed that need by introducing a process for regular EPA reporting.
A core feature of this process is the use of ‘pressure-state-response’ (PSR) analytical frameworks to identify and measure environmental issues or concerns.
Typical ‘pressures’ include those that have both a direct and indirect impact on the environment, such as air pollutants and the intensity of natural resource extraction.
Environmental ‘state’ refers to the quality and quantity of natural resources, for example this might include looking at how contaminated air, water and soil is, and how this is impacting human health and the status of wildlife.
‘Response’ refers to the way governments are reacting, mitigating or adapting policies and plans to reduce negative environmental and social impacts.
Through the EPA component, CEP-BCI supported the six GMS countries in strengthening their capacity to collect, compile, analyze, and disseminate environmental data, using an analytical framework, and to identify environmental baseline data.
This data can then be used by GMS countries to track their efforts to meet established environmental and social targets (such as those prescribed in the Millennium Development Goals), as well as improve the quality and quantity of their environmental assessments.
Mainstreaming the EPA approach
During Phase 1 of CEP-BCI (2006–2011), two rounds of national EPA reporting were conducted, with each round covering a four-year period (the first round started pre-CEP-BCI, covering the period 2003–2006).
Work on the EPAs has been a collaborative effort between GMS governments, the EOC and regional institutions such as the United Nations Environment Programme and Institute for Global Environmental Strategies.
Under the most recent round of reports (2007–2011), an enhanced analytical and indicator framework was adopted, which has helped ensure that the assessments more effectively complement existing country performance monitoring systems and reporting needs.
In fact, evidence suggests that integration of the EPA framework into existing performance assessment systems is already taking place. For example, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam are using national EPA reports as an input to their State of Environment (SoE) reporting. In Yunnan, PR China, meanwhile, provincial EPAs are being adapted to for use in prefecture environmental performance reporting.
A further indication that EPA is being mainstreamed and institutionalized is the establishment of EPA national and provincial implementing nodes enabling government officials, national consultants and EOC staff to closely collaborate in preparing EPA reports.
Progress is also being achieved in forging linkages between EPA focal institutions, usually environment ministries and line and sector ministries. This is enabling inter-ministry participation in data gathering and analysis, and the utilization of EPA findings in planning processes.
As efforts to further mainstream the EPA approach continue, it has been agreed that environmental ministries are best placed to take the lead. They will be responsible for facilitating and coordinating the participation of line ministries as they conduct cross-sector or individual analyses of environmental performance. To aid their efforts, a clear mandate and regulatory framework to further institutionalize EPA will be required.
Implementation Challenges and Future Responses
Among the challenges for subregional EPAs are differing country priority issues, sometimes incompatible indicators and variable data quality.
In response, from January 2012, CEP-BCI begun work to pilot a GMS-adapted environmental performance index (EPI). This index will calculate a single performance rating for each country by integrating a large number of variable data sets into a smaller set of aggregated indicators.
Conducting an EPI exercise across the GMS is expected to provide a baseline for a more meaningful comparison of performance across different sectors. It will also facilitate the benchmarking of environmental performance by comparing country performance against regionally agreed targets.
Future CEP-BCI work on EPA will also focus on creating greater institutional links to socio-economic development planning processes and country multilateral reporting obligations, such as the Millennium Development Goals.
A further focus will be to diversify EPA reporting to incorporate climate change and socio-economic indicators (e.g. socio-economic vulnerability index, climate change vulnerability).
Click here to find out more about these activities and other CEP-BCI work on EPA.
18 - 20 June 2013
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