Information on the environment assists in decision-making on policies and priorities, facilitates monitoring and enforcement of compliance with rules and ensures transparency. In this sense it constitutes a basis for environmental action by public policy makers, major groups, such as business and industry, trade unions, NGOs, and the public at large. Developing and increasing cooperation in environmental policy-making depends on better data and on their better availability. At present, many public and private actors bear various responsibilities for collecting, assessing and making available such data. The coordination and integration of their activities is an important objective. There is a need, in particular, for statistical offices and environmental agencies to coordinate environmental data collection and assessment, to ensure compatibility of data and reporting standards. Moreover, international and national actors in the field of the environment need better access to this information.
States should establish information technology systems designed to analyse where problems exist and their degree of severity. In doing so, they should bear in mind the need to disseminate the knowledge and insights obtained and to monitor the progress made in solving the problems. They also need to consider compatibility between systems for various needs within a single country and between systems in other countries, with a view to making international comparisons, based on the Health21 targets, for example.
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.