SoE Norway was first presented in Rio
In 1992 GRID-Arendal prepared a first digitized State of the Environment Norway, based on the use of environmental indicators. This was also the first digitized SoE created. The results were presented at the Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio in 1992.
In 1994 the OECD published a core set of such indicators:
“Environmental Indicators OECD Core Set. (OECD, 1994)
The Nordic set of environmental indicators, prepared for the Nordic Environmental Monitoring and Data Group, is primarily based on the OECD Core set.
The environmental indicators used in this report are based on the Nordic set of indicators. The OECD indicators as well as the Nordic Indicators meet the UNEP demands for environmental indicators.
State of the Environment Norway 1995
GRID-Arendal - the Global Resource Information Database in Arendal, Norway, is responsible for the development of this report. The work has been done in close cooperation with the Norwegian Mapping Authorities, Environmental Unit; SKME.
Other cooperating partners are Statistics Norway, Norwegian Pollution Control Authority, Directorate for Nature Management, Ministry of the Environment, National Centre for Educational Resources and the Norwegian Marine Research Centre at Bergen.
Responsible at GRID-Arendal:
Per T. Terjesen (Norwegian Mapping Authority - Env. Unit)
Torstein Olsen (Norwegian Mapping Authority - Env. Unit)
Per T. Terjesen (Norwegian Mapping Authority - Env. Unit)
Frode Brunvoll (Statistics Norway)
Olav Hesjedal (Telemark College)
Henning Høie (Statistics Norway)
Øystein Nesje (Min. of Environment)
Sylvi Ofstad (Min. of Environment)
Peter Johan Schei (Directorate for Nature Management)
Svein Tveitdal (GRID-Arendal)
Texts and graphics may be copied to single papers on condition that credit is given to the source.
If you wish to use parts of the SoE report for your own printing/publishing or use the photos/graphics for your own web-pages, please contact GRID-Arendal for a separate agreement.
An environmental indicator is meant to indicate the state or development of important aspects of the natural environment, what causes these changes, and how society responds to them.
Pressure - State - Response
This report is predominantly based on a cause- and effect chain, according to a Pressure - State - Response (PSR) concept.
Pressure: Human activities put pressure on the environment in different ways, e.g. through emissions of SO2 and NOx.
State: The pressure is reflected in an altered quality and quantity of the natural resources. E.g. increased acidity in fresh water.
Response: Society responds to limit these alterations or try to repair the damages on the environment. E.g . liming.
An environmental indicator steers action
The state of certain environmental indicators can be used to bring scientific findings from the field and lab to the general public and decision-makers.
To be effective, in the sense that the indicators steer action, the indicators should as a rule, have an explicit target group in a particular country or region in mind.
A set of indicators should not only give information on the development in specific environmental problem areas, but also give a general impression of the state of the environment. Ideally,a set of indicators is a means devised to reduce a large quantity of data to a simpler form, while retaining essential meaning for the questions that are being asked of the data.
Environmental indicators are used:
- to assess environmental conditions and trends on a national, regional and global scale;
- to compare countries and regions;
- to forecast and project trends;
- to provide early warning information, and
- to assess conditions in relation to goals and targets.
Isolated assessment is problematic
Information on the environment may be difficult to evaluate in isolation. In answering questions such as: “How bad or good is the situation? Is it possible to do better?”,etc, it is important to be able to compare the situation and development of various countries. Therefore, points of reference are needed. Preferably, a set of indicators for Norway should be the same as or closely related to the sets of indicators used in other countries.
It is also important to have the capacity to present long time series of the indicators.
An early warning may be seen in changes in these time series.
However, most of the processes at the basis of environmental degradation feature important time lags. These time lags separate opportunities for present action from the manifestation of effects, and sometimes last several generations. These delays are caused by a multitude of factors, such as gradual buffer depletion, long residence times of chemicals and slow transport in soils and groundwater. Everything may seem to function normally until, suddenly, the buffer zone becomes worn down.
Criteria for Indicator Selection
An environmental indicator should :
- provide a representative picture of environmental conditions, pressure on the environment or society’s response;
- be simple, easy to interpret and able to show trends over time;
- be responsive to changes in the environment and related to human activities;
- provide a basis for international comparisons;
- have a target or threshold against which to compare it so that users are able to assess the significance of the values associated with it.
- An environmental indicator should :
- be theoretically well founded in technical and scientific terms;
- be based on international standards and international consensus about its validity, and
- lend itself to linkage with economic models, forecasting and information systems.
- The data required to support the indicator should :
- be readily available at a reasonable cost/benefit ratio;
- be adequately documented and of known quality, and
- be updated at regular intervals.
(From OECD 1993c)
State of the Environment Norway -SoE - will be regularly updated with new indicators and updated information.
SoE Norway is constructed as follows:
The first page is a menu showing eleven different problem areas or topics.
The cooperating partners are shown as hyperlinks.
When choosing a topic, you will get a chapter or topic menu with icon symbols for each issue within the chapter. These icons are navigation tools, and will be shown on a frame on the following pages. The first article gives a short trend description or a summary overview of the problem. The information is then grouped in three categories according to the pressure, state, and response indicators. Additional information can be found under the blue or red hypertexts under the information icon.
Main target groups for SoE Norway are: the general public and decisionmakers, nationally and internationally, schools from the ninth year of schooling and upwards. UNEP and users of UNEP information are also an important target group.
Environmental indicators used by GRID-Arendal are similar to the Nordic environmental indicators. Indicators of particular interest to Norway have been included.