United Nations
Environment Programme

Why do Assessments Matter?

Assessments validate the importance of the issue being assessed by providing an authoritative analysis of policy relevant information based on scientific questions. Assessments also provide the platform to analyze the benefits, costs and risks of various policy options.  Moreover, assessments, such as the GEO-5 report, provide a fundamental shift in the way environmental issues are analyzed, with consideration given to the drivers of global change, rather than merely to the pressures on the environment. (UNEP, 2016)

Assessment frameworks, like the DPSIR (Drivers, Pressure, State, Impact and Responses) framework (used in GEO-5), are used to identify and evaluate the complex and multidimensional cause-and-effect relationships between society and the environment. (UNEP, 2016)

Assessments are moving from one-off reports towards continuing assessment processes with regular reporting to provide updates on the changing environmental situation, the effectiveness of policy actions and the policy pathways that can ensure a more sustainable future. Some policy actions might be based on findings from the assessment (enabling the evaluation of effectiveness), but the assessment can also report other policies that influence drivers of systemic change (e.g. perverse subsidies). Continuing assessment generally results in a reduction in the size of reports, because the updates are based on accumulated experience and improved data collection and processing.Indicators are often used to signal the key findings relevant for policy.

An assessment may also need to be tailored according to where the environmental issue is in the policy cycle, in order to be focused on the relevant audience. An emerging issue may need to be documented as important, and then evidence assembled to stimulate action to resolve the issue. An integrated assessment will identify drivers and pressures causing the issue, and then options for prevention and mitigation. For a mature issue, monitoring of progress or recovery will become the focus of the assessment to demonstrate policy effectiveness.

 

 Ongoing Assessments

•    The GEO-6 regional assessments for Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, and West Asia were launched in May during UNEA-2 while the Pan European regional assessment was launched early June during the 8th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Batumi, Georgia.
•    The GEO-6 Global assessment will have it's first author's meeting tentatively in February 2017 in Nairobi,Kenya. This meeting will chart the course of the global assessment and kickstart the writing process for the authors.

To view the GEO-6 Schedule, Click here.