Undertaking environmental monitoring and assessments

Increasing environmental reporting
Maintaining environmental information systems
Providing environmental reports
Improving environmental monitoring

Integrated environmental assessment needs to be firmly based on reliable technical data and information. Environmental progress and policy effectiveness can be assessed only if quality data are routinely collected through monitoring systems. However, environmental monitoring infrastructure is poorly developed in most countries, making regular production of policy-relevant environmental data and indicators impossible. The situation is being exacerbated by the decline of some existing monitoring systems due to shrinking resources.


This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.

Agenda 21 recommends:

(a) environmental monitoring and assessment, both through improved participation by the UN system agencies in the Earthwatch programme and expanded relations with private scientific and non-governmental research institutes; and strengthening and making operational its early warning function;

(b) strengthening national, state/provincial and local assessment and ensuring cooperation/networking between existing environmental information and monitoring systems, such as Earthwatch and the Sahara and Sahel Observatory;

(c) supporting and concentrating UNEP capacity in this field.


Environmental assessments need data that are geo-referenced and information that is broken down by spatial areas other than administrative units. These data are still relatively scarce.

Mediterranean Automated Environmental Monitoring Network (MEDNET)
Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia (EANET)
African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development (AMESD)
Agreement Regarding Monitoring of the Stratosphere
Arab Network for Radiation Monitoring and Early Warning
Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP)
Arrangement on the Joint Financing of a North Atlantic Height Monitoring System
Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP)
Cooperative Programme for Monitoring and Evaluation of the Long-range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe (EMEP)
East Asia Nature Conservation Research Monitoring and Training Centre
Europe-Central Asia Monitoring (EUCAM)
Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN)
Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS)
Global Marine Pollution Monitoring System (MARPOLMON)
Global Fire Monitoring Centre (GFMC)
International Cooperative Programme on Integrated Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Ecosystems (ICP-IM)
UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UN Environment WCMC)
INTERACT - International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic (INTERACT)
Network of Reference Laboratories for Monitoring of Emerging Environmental Pollutants (NORMAN Network)
Water Monitoring Alliance (WMA)
World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS)
IGU Commission on Geographical Monitoring and Forecasting
Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health (GIWEH)
International Union of Air Pollution Prevention and Environmental Protection Associations (IUAPPA)
Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoA-REN)
International Environmental Modelling and Software Society (IEMSS)
West African Association for Environmental Assessment (WAAEA)
Southern African Institute for Environmental Assessment (SAIEA)
Committee on Environmental Policy
European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
Environmental Management Accounting Network (EMAN)
European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET)
International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE)
Amazon Environmental Research Institute
Global Environmental Information Exchange Network (INFOTERRA)
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal