European green targets inventory completed

Environment Agency unveils largest database of sustainability targets, reference values

Europe's most complete data set of environmental protection and policy targets has been finalised and is to be made widely available on the Internet, the European Environment Agency has revealed in its latest newsletter. The "STAR" database "will be a very important tool," the agency writes. "It is the first time that such a comprehensive inventory has been made."

The database has been developed for the agency over the last year by London-based environmental consultancy ERM and the Budapest-based Regional Environmental Centre. Its first major role will be to support preparation of "EU '98," the agency's first three-yearly survey of the state of, and outlook for, the Union's environment, to be published early next year.

STAR, which stands for "sustainability targets and reference values," is intended to support a move from static to action-oriented environmental reporting, Sofia Vaz of the agency told ENDS Daily. By combining policy targets with "sustainability reference values," she said, policy makers and others can begin to see clearly where gaps exist between the action needed to achieve sustainability and the national and international policies so far in place. The data can also show where science-based sustainability reference values and policy targets are currently missing, Ms Vaz continued.

The database contains around 2,000 records, organised into 14 environmental themes, such as climate change, air pollution, waste management, risk management, resource use and soil quality. Data sourced from both EU and central and eastern European countries is included, though the agency admits to a current bias towards western Europe.

A first review of the data just completed by ERM shows that the approach fits reasonably well with the agency's overall "DPSIR" (or Driving forces, Pressures, States, Impacts and Responses) framework for environmental reporting (ENDS Daily 16 September 1997), according to Sofia Vaz.

Identification of policy targets and sustainability reference values worked particularly well for the themes of climate change, acidification, ozone depletion and eutrophication, she said.

However, it remains practically impossible to relate policy targets to sustainability reference values for some environmental themes, the agency concedes. In themes such as biodiversity and resource use, ERM reports, "it is difficult even to use the DPSIR as a framework".

Follow Up:
European Environment Agency, tel: +45 33 36 71 00. References: STAR database. Editor's note: The database is currently offline due to technical problems. The EEA hopes to re-post the information by next week.

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