Environmental assessment and reporting has been around since the 1960s, and many countries have at least a few examples from previous reporting processes. Environmental state-and-trends analysis presents a “cutting the cake” dilemma since the environment is a complex subject. It has fuzzy spatial and thematic boundaries, and presents challenges to IEA practitioners in deciding on a geographic area within which to carry out assessment, themes and issues and/or resource sectors upon which to focus analyses.
Environmental themes for the purpose of this training module are defined as broad categories of environmental concern, sometimes related to environmental media such as air or water. Although terminology varies, it is common to find that those same themes cross a wide range of IEA analyses. A given environmental theme can include many environmental issues that are interconnected in a wide variety of ways. Issues are more specific concerns with which stakeholders can directly relate (e.g., land degradation, air and water pollution, smog, greenhouse gas emissions). Resource sectors include agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism and others.