A steady increase in reporting on environmental trends and performance during the past decade reflects a broad societal need for strengthening the evidence base for policymaking. We also see a growth in systems for collecting and analysing data about the environment and human well-being at local, national, sub-regional, regional and global levels. Interest in fine tuning monitoring and data collection systems to reflect the real needs of society and decision-makers is now part of the mainstream.
At some point during the process of developing your integrated environmental assessment (IEA), you will need to collect, process and analyze data. As you begin, you will need to know essentials about data collection including selecting the most appropriate and reliable types and sources of data and how to collect, store and analyze your data. This module addresses these issues, with particular focus on statistics and spatial data collection, analysis and the use of tools such as the GEO Data Portal and regional data portals to support IEA.
With data in hand, the next step will be to convert the data into a meaningful form that can be used during decision making processes. Indicators and indices help us package data into a form that speaks to a relevant policy issue. You will learn the basic building blocks of indicators and indices, including frameworks, selection criteria, and elements of a participatory indicator selection process. The module outlines these elements, and includes examples of indicators, including the GEO core indicator set.
Once you have developed indicators, you will need to derive meaning from them. What trends, correlations, or spatial relationships are revealed through the data? To answer these questions, you will need familiarity with various non-spatial and spatial analysis techniques.
A common theme running through this module is the importance of participatory processes. Understanding which stakeholders and experts need to be involved in the process, and when and how is essential because what we choose to measure reflects our values. A participatory process also provides an opportunity for change, as society seeks to improve what gets measured.
A second theme is the importance of reliable data and well-chosen indicators. This is critical to the process, because poor information can lead to poor decisions. At the same time, information needs to speak to the intended audience in a relevant way; otherwise, the most well-developed indicators could have limited impact.
Through a series of presentations, examples and exercises, this module will provide you with a number of tools and techniques necessary to complete the data collection and indicator development aspects for an IEA.