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Implementation of Environmental Programs: Environmental Indicators and Outcome Metrics: International Organization

Updated: April 2007

The fact sheet identifies some key international organizations and their roles in developing waste-related environmental indicators and other metrics to further sustainability goals. Numerous countries, including the U.S., have benefited from the work of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UN CSD), European Union (EU), World Bank, and other organizations. The international organizations addressed in this summary emphasize the functions of social and economic factors when assessing environmental programs and needs in order to understand underlying forces that shape environmental conditions. This factsheet is not comprehensive; rather, it provides a starting point for readers interested in investigating the topic.

International Roles in Metrics Development

This section highlights some innovative approaches taken to the development of environmental indicators (EIs) and other performance metrics by the OECD, UN CSD, EU, and World Bank.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) - environmental indicators and outlooks Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer. OECD has pioneered the pressure-state-response (PSR) model to structure its work on environmental policy and reporting. The PSR framework, or modified versions of it, is being used worldwide as a reporting tool. The graphic below helps to describe the PSR model.

The OECD Pressure-State-Response Framework

The OECD Pressure-State-Response Framework: This diagram shows the OECD Pressure-State-Response Framework.  There are 4 main boxes in the diagram.  The first box on the left is titled Pressures on the 
	Environment which includes Direct Pressures  like Biological Stresses and Indirect Pressures like Human Activities and Natural Events.  These pressures area applied to the State of the Environment and Natural 
	Resources depicted in the second box.  The second box shows concentric circles starting with local in the middle, then reigonal, then national and then global on the outside circle.  Information from the State box 
	are processed through Perceptions of the State of the Environment which is the 3rd box.  These perceptions then influence Responses by Society which is the 4th box.  Responses by Society include Central Government 
	Policies and Actions, Local Government Policies and Actions, Community/Sector  Attitudes and Actions and Individual/Household Attitudes and Actions.  There are additiional arrows pointing from the 
	'Responses' box to the 'State' box and to the 'Pressures' box, and additional arrows pointing to the 'Perceptions' box from the 'Pressures' box and from the 'Perceptions' box to the 'Responses' box.

OECD has developed:

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United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UN CSD) - indicators of sustainable development Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer. The UN CSD framework for indicators Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer adapts the OECD PSR model. UN CSD uses a driving force, state, and response (DSR) framework; driving forces (rather than pressures) include the economic, social, and institutional aspects of sustainable development and may reflect either positive or negative impacts. UN CSD’s use of the DSR framework has prompted other international organizations, such as the World Bank, and some countries to use this conceptual model. UN CSD developed a "theme based" set of 58 social, environmental, economic, and institutional indicators to focus attention on sustainable development. Each of these four themes is broken down into sub-themes and associated indicators. For example, the economic category includes is a sub-theme of waste generation and management. This sub-theme has four associated indicators: generation of industrial and municipal solid waste; generation of hazardous waste; management of radioactive waste; and waste recycling and reuse.

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European Union (EU) – European Environment Agency (EEA) core set of indicators Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer and Eurostat sustainable development indicators Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer. EEA and Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, have worked cooperatively on indicators to support the EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy. EEA and Eurostat define these indicators according to the driving force-pressure-state-impact-response (DPSIR) model. In contrast with some other models for indicator development, the DPSIR model emphasizes causal links and relationships between various aspects of human activities and the environment. EEA focuses on development of the pressure (e.g., pollution), state (e.g., air, water) and impact (e.g., ill health, biodiversity loss) indicators, and Eurostat focuses on indicators for driving force (e.g., industry) and response (e.g., regulation). These agencies inform decision-makers and the general public, using sustainable development indicators (SDI), and a core set of indicators (CSI) oriented toward environmental media. The following table identifies the ten EU sustainable development themes addressed by SDIs:

EU Themes Addressed by Sustainable Development Indicators
  • Economic Development
  • Poverty
  • Aging Society
  • Public Health
  • Climate Change and Energy
  • Production and Consumption Patterns
  • Management of Natural Resources
  • Transportation
  • Good Governance
  • Global Partnership


The ten themes are further broken down into sub-themes and "areas to be addressed" that merit additional analysis.

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World Bank
2006 World Bank Development Indicators (WDI) Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer. The WDI include more than 900 indicators in over 80 tables organized in 6 sections: world view; people; environment; economy, states and markets; and global links. Environmental indicator initiatives within the World Bank include the Little Green Book and a sustainability indicator building on concepts of green national accounts.

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Some U.S. Activities and Additional Resources

EPA and other government agencies in the United States at the federal, state, and local levels have undertaken efforts to develop environmental indicators and measure government performance. Below are selected brief descriptions and links for some of this work.

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