III: COUNTRY REPORTS
Sustainable Development Issues
- The sustainable development process in Barbados
is fraught with the same problems common to Small Island Developing
States. Barbados has a small land area of 430 sq km and a resident
population of 260,000 people and an annual visitor (stay-over) of
approximately 500,000. This makes Barbados one of the most densely
populated countries in the world.
- In addition, Barbados has jurisdiction over an
Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of approximately 167,000 sq km which is
almost 400 times larger than its land area. In Barbados almost 60% of the
people live within the coastal zone.
- Given this background the main sustainable
development issues in Barbados include:
(1) Fragile National Resource Base:
- limited groundwater supply and agricultural land;
- threat of flooding and natural disasters as a result of global
climate change and sea level rise;
- coastal/marine zone issues;
- solid and liquid waste (including toxic/hazardous waste);
- urban issues;
- energy conservation issues.
- fragmented legislation framework;
- overlap, duplication and gaps in decision-making process;
- limited capacity (human resource, technological);
- lack of public involvement and awareness;
- lack of financial resources.
- In 1994 the Programme of Action for Small Island
States called on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to continue to work
in cooperation with national, regional and international organizations, on
the development of vulnerability indices. It is felt that vulnerability
indices better reflect the unique states of SIDS.
- In direct response to these calls the Government
of Barbados through the Environment Division, Ministry of Health and the
Environment formulated a national programme aimed at developing National
Indicators of Sustainable Development. The objectives of this programme
to develop a broader framework for collating and providing
information about progress towards sustainable development;
to provide quantitative information for measuring environmental
trends, formulating policy targets, and evaluating targets;
to provide an environmental information system that is useful to
policy makers, technicians and the public at large, and to regional
and international agencies.
- In 1994, the Government of Barbados established
a National Commission on Sustainable Development (NCSD) which has overall
responsibility for guiding government's sustainable development programme.
The NCSD was set up to:
Advise Government on measures required to integrate environmental
and economic considerations in the decision making process and on
global issues of sustainable development;
Facilitate national level coordination mechanisms on sustainable
Promote greater understanding and public awareness of the cultural,
social, economic and policy approaches to attaining sustainable
development in Barbados;
Receive and review the annual report of actions taken in pursuit of
Sustainable Development, prior to its submission to Cabinet and to the
UN Commission on Sustainable Development.
The NCSD comprises members of the public sector,
private sector, NGO's and Trade Unions. One of the constraints to
Barbados' thrust in the area of Sustainable Development has been the
inactivity of the NCSD. This will be addressed shortly with the
revitalisation of the Commission. The Environment Division functions as
secretariat of the NCSD.
Status of Indicators Programme
- The Government of Barbados is committed to the
development of sustainable development indicators. It is felt that
traditional indicators such as GDP which are used at national, regional
and international level are flawed. These traditional indicators do not
sufficiently capture the impacts (negative or positive) in the
bio-physical environment. Indeed these traditional indicators are often a
disadvantage to Small Island Developing States, such as Barbados which
loses financial assistance because of high GDP. These traditional
indicators ignore positive contributions made in the area of environmental
- On November 4, 1996 the Government of Barbados
through a national consultation, launched its Sustainable Development
Programme. Its main aims is to translate the global concept of Sustainable
Development into the local context. As evidence of Government's interest
in indicators for Sustainable Development, one of the four themes of the
one day consultation addressed the area of "Monitoring and
Performance Indicators for Sustainable Development". However various
factors have since delayed the continuation of the sub-programme dealing
- Generally in Barbados there is access to high
quality data relating to socio-economic activities. The weakness lies in
the area of bio-physical and environmental data which are sporadic and
disperse. This is one of the problems the national programme will seek to
remedy. Data collection compilation and analysis is dispersed among
various ministries and departments.
- There is also the need to build local capacity
particularly as it relates to human resource development, technology, and
financial resources. In order to overcome these constraints it is
desirable that regional and international agencies work in collaboration
with national agencies in developing and executing a programme for
indicators of Sustainable Development.
- The commitment to prepare progress reports an
the achievement of sustainable development was assumed by all participant
countries at the United Nations Conference for Environment and Development
- UNCED, in 1992.
- To carry out this task, the UNDPCSD is
discussing with the United Nations system the methodology sheets with the
aim of assisting all participant countries to develop their own group of
indicators with a common methodology and to enable data comparisons and
information exchange among all involved actors.
International Workshop: strategies and
- Since then, the Brazilian Government has been
working on this issue, and in 1994, promoted an International Workshop to
discuss and select indicators of sustainable development. This Workshop
was held by the Ministry of Environment, Water Resources and the Legal
Amazon (MMA). The main directives resulting from the Workshop were:
- Definition of guidelines to formulate indicators, considering local
and regional cultural and physical landscape characteristics;
Use of already existing information sources, before seeking new
Agreement on a study process, using as reference the
Pressure-State-Response OECD s, methodology for the developing of
sustainability indicators, distinguished regionally.
The Framework to Develop Indicators and the
- During the year of 1995 the MMA, working on results of this
International Workshop defined the most suitable framework to be used in
the process of selecting and setting up indicators for Brazil. The chosen
framework was the Pressure-State-Response proposed by OECD, and after
updating with some conceptual inputs, the Driving Force-State-Response
- These activities were carried out with the aim
of producing and supporting the development of variables and indicators
that will allow environmental monitoring. This urgent initiative is needed
not only because of the lack of existing environmental data, but also due
to the awareness that indicators are a useful tool for public
administrations and can surely contribute to the revision of policies and
Government programs. The existing environmental gap at the global level is
also known by CSD.
- However, the availability of data, variables
and environmental indicators is precarious, which makes a clear view of
the country s environmental situation impossible, obstructing the
construction of sustainable development indexes, obtained from the main
axes of sustainability:
Gather reliable data and information on the environmental quality of
the country and make them available
Coordinate, promote and disseminate environmental monitoring
practices and procedures
Build capacity of institutions in order to carry out environmental
Develop methodological standards for gathering and analysis of
environmental monitoring data
Develop statistical and sampling standards for significant research
on environmental quality at regional and national levels
Promote the exchange of information on environmental quality
Allow an integrated analysis of the environmental situation of
- What must be emphasized is that the proposed
indicators, following the conceptual framework, are closely related to
Driving Force identified elements. Further more, they reveal the
achievement of the public policies to all involved social actors affected
by economic development.
- During the execution of the ongoing MONITORE
Program, six thematic meetings were held, on selected topics related to
the following environments: continental waters, coastal zone and marine;
land (fauna, flora/vegetation, soil/subsoil) and atmosphere. The
participants of the meetings were governmental and non-governmental
representatives, researchers and representatives of the scientific
community. The main objective was to identify the representative variables
and indicators, and procedures for obtaining this data.
Selection of Indicators
- As a goal for 1997, based on the work already
carried out, and considering the results of the thematic meetings
mentioned above, we expect to obtain a set of indicators that will be used
to describe the state of the environment as well as the structure of the
monitoring system at national level.
- While dealing essentially with the sustainable
use of natural resources and pollution prevention and control, the
MONITORE Program will, necessarily, deal with a large spectrum of
sustainability indicators, since the constitutional concept of
environmental management implies the improvement of living standards and
equal access to natural resources for present and future generations;
therefore, those indicators for social aspects of sustainable development
related to the sustainable use of natural resources and quality of life,
proposed by the CSD, are to be considered in the MONITORE s framework
- Actually, some CSD indicators are already in
use or proposed by the major State Agencies and will be tested, at a
national level, within the MONITORE Program.
- The feasibility of systematic data collection
for these indicators and the generation of a database for environmental
monitoring will be tested in a MONITORE pilot-project in 1997; however the
regional disparities within the State Agencies are considered to be an
important obstacle; to help the State Agencies overcome the technical
deficit, the Ministry will promote the cooperation between Agencies and
Universities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. It is
noteworthy that the Ministry expects that the cooperation process will do
more than just improve the process of getting and analyzing information,
it will help to promote the partnership between the different social
actors and facilitate the access to environmental data.
- In Chile the sustainable development theme has
been explicitly incorporated into Government statements. It is frequently
used by public authorities to express concern about natural resource
management and the environment, with implications of intra generational
equity and inter generational justice. But what really has been done on
- There are many well known achievements of
Chilean economic policy, mainly in reference to market openness,
management of macro economic variables, recovery of confidence for foreign
investment, incentives to private initiative and free trade. A controlled
inflation, (single digit from 1994 onwards), a sustained growth of GNP
(6.7% yearly average in between 1990 and 1995; 6.5% in 1996), some
betterment in income distribution, a reasonable rate of unemployment (From
10.5% in between 1984 and 1989, 5.6% in between 1990 and 1995, with a rise
to 7.2% in 1996), and decent values for other traditional indicators
(balance of payments, capital markets, consumption), are all facts that
permit to assess the Chilean economy as relatively sound and stable, with
good perspectives into the future.
- Chilean economic growth has had a strong
centralization component, favoring mainly the capital and a few regions
outstanding for their participation in the export oriented dynamic. The
problem lies on what Chile exports, which has traditionally been mining
products, mainly copper, which is the base for sustaining the economy. In
the past years other goods have diversified this mono export pattern,
namely timber and paper, agricultural goods (mainly fruit), and
- Chile is a country that rests especially on its
natural resources as key elements for its development. New investment in
copper mining will further intensify the dependency upon mining resources,
and upon natural resources as a whole if we consider the projected growth
of the agriculture and fishing sectors. This has led many to wonder about
the environmental sustainability of the Chilean development model.
- On the public level the task of bringing
answers to this problem is only just being tackled. Some studies made by
the Central Bank have shown preliminary results which doubt the
sustainability of the current development process, at least in three
sectors : native woods, fisheries and mining. These results have however
been questioned by sectorial and firm organizations, originating a still
- The most significant work done on the matter,
is presented in a book called Sustentabilidad Ambiental del Crecimiento
Económico en Chile (Environmental Sustainability of Economic Growth in
Chile),is a research work carried out by the "Programa de Desarrollo
Sustentable" (Sustainable Development Program) of the Public Policy
Analysis Center of the University of Chile, in which several faculties are
striving to co-operate.
- In the introduction it is maintained that,
"According to the requirements of sustainable development, the
relative achievements on the economic, political and social levels are not
enough to secure the country's future development. There arises the need
for a forth pillar, whose stronghold is the identification and achievement
of the sustainable environmental conditions necessary for economic growth
with equity and in democracy."
- Environmental indicators, however inaccurate,
do not show any improvement , but rather a continuous process of decline.
This translates into the following challenge. " One would therefore
expect that unless significant action on the policy making level is
taken... the environmental situation could worsen.... Chile would have to
double the value of it's exports, an aim which must be thought about from
the environmental point of view, considering that this implies mainly a
further strain upon natural resources."
- The main conclusion of the study is that
"the present tendency to the growth of demand cannot be maintained
without compromising in a non reversible manner the quality of life of the
Chilean population, especially in big urban centers. The development level
of the country already presents a certain rigidity in the supply of
environmental goods and services , such as drinking water resource and
land resource, be it for vehicle circulation, the installment of dumping
sites, or recreational activities."
Sustainable Development Indicators
- The University of Chile research includes a
chapter on sustainability indicators, which we shall overview.
- The starting point is the conception that
sustainable development indicators are a source of information about the
"future of sustainability" confronted to particular social an
economic aims. In other words, they are part of a data base relevant for
decision making. In this setting the indicators which should be developed
must reflect actual sustainability problems, their consequences, and the
activities that have brought them about.
- For these authors, indicators must be a
synthesis of the problem and the solution. This is the point at which
traditional socio-economic indicators cease to be useful, since they do
not consider resource depletion and environmental degradation. One example
of this is the "Sistema de Cuentas Nacionales (National accounting
system), which has the following important shortcomings:
It does not consider natural resource depletion as a decrease in
It does not consider fully the costs of environmental protection and
It does not consider environmental degradation
- Therefore the National Accounts System
indicators cannot orient development towards sustainability. The only way
to obtain useful tools for decision making would be to reach a macro
economical adjustment, sort of GNP, that would account properly for the
use of natural resources in a country whose economy rests so fundamentally
upon them, not only for their productive uses, but also for other
activities such as infra-structure, tourism and recreation.
- Another point that is not considered by the
system of national accounts is the degradation of natural assets, be it by
over exploitation or waste generation. This is yet another shortcoming for
decision making, since the future outcome of particular activities cannot
Lines of Action
These are the lines upon which current work is
being done in order to obtain a set of macro economic indicators based on
information generated by National Accounts (including Environmental
Accounts). These would allow for the direction of political economy
towards a sustainable use of natural resources.
It would furthermore enable the elaboration of
environmental statistics in order to cope with present needs and overcome
the major shortcomings of this matter. For this reason CONAMA is pushing
for the development of a National Environmental Information System (SINIA)
which uses and completes the actual data networks. In a still unofficial
proposition the SINIA also considers the selection of a set of
environmental indicators that would allow for the expression of the
collected information in synthetic tools.
The new environmental legislation also
considers the development of indicators on a regional level, setting a
further challenge for the Environmental Authority. On the face of this
CONAMA jointly with academic circles have this year engaged on a project
for the development of Sustainability Indicators at regional and sectorial
levels, for selected regions and economic activities. It is expected that
the said project will be the continuation of what has been done until now
to analyze critically the environmental sustainability of the Chilean
growth pattern, and furnish environmental authorities with a first set of
sustainability indicators useful for decision making.
The National Planning Department (DNP), is one
of the most important entities of the Colombian Government. As an
executive body at the most strategic level, DNP has the responsibility of
giving advice to the President and Ministries in the decision making
process for the design and implementation of Investment Policies, Plans
and Programs at the national level. As a Planning Institution DNP has to
foresee and guarantee, as far as possible, the viability of such Policies,
Plans, and Programs, and after a period of time, to evaluate them as well.
Among the main actions that the DNP has to
achieve in order to reach such strategic performance, are:
To coordinate the design and implementation of the National Planning
To set macro economic and financial goals according to Government s
policies, plans and programs.
To manage the National Investment Budget.
To act as the Executive Secretariat of the National Council for
Economic and Social Policy.
To assess and advise public entities in the formulation of social,
economic and environmental Programs.
To analyze and evaluate these entities performance.
A brief Institutional Diagnostic
Through the implementation of Law 99 of 1993,
Colombian government did create the Ministry of Environment and designed
the National Environmental System which is the global framework that
governs environmental management in Colombia.Colombia is involved in a decentralization process
since 1986; however the recent re-organization of the institutional
context for environmental management includes the creation of the Ministry
of Environment and which replaces a National Level Institute called
INDERENA which was responsible for the management of Natural Resources,
without any responsibility related to the environmental policy design at
the National Level.
Besides the creation of Ministry of
Environment, 99 Law reformulated the functions of Regional Corporations
and created 16 more (there were 18 but those did not cover all the
country); this Law also created 4 Urban Environmental Units (each one for
the 4 most important cities). The last two kind of Institutions are
responsible for the execution of Investment Programs and Projects at
regional and local levels, and can be considered the most important
authorities at regional and local levels.
The implicit objective of the Environmental
National System Structure is to make a change in the traditional policy
making in Colombia. The main idea is that other organizations and
institutions besides Government s ones can share the control and
implementation phases of environmental management, as well as in policy
making and projects formulation.
For this change to happen, it is necessary to
have an inter-institutional coordination which although is formally
established, requires an effort of each one of the entities involved to
become reality. The effectiveness of decisions at national, regional and
local levels depends on the availability and quality of environmental
Because of that, DNP is leading a Coordination
Process with the institutions that might be involved in the Project. In
the first stage of this process must be a close relationship with the
"Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies Institute" (IDEAM)
which belongs to the Ministry of the Environment, the National Statistics
Department (DANE) , the Geographical Studies Institute (IGAC), the
Contraloria and in a second stage with the Regional Corporations (CARs),
in order to cross information at the detail of a regional level.
The DNP project "Environmental Indicators
System for Monitoring Natural Resources and its Management", is the
first official effort to formulate environmental indicators in Colombia.
In addition, if the process works, it will provide a productive exchange
between national information institutes, and the actors involved.
Various organizations in Colombia are
responsible for providing environmental information; the data making,
statistical analysis, and development of economic indicators are done by
different institutions. The production of that information does not use
the same methodologies, which makes it difficult to build indicators.
Besides, according to the Information Pyramid (Hammond et al, 1995), in
Colombia there are different levels of state of information, depending on
the way each institution handles the information making process, from
simple data to an index. Therefore, to build the environmental indicators
proposed by DNP, information from many sources will be required.
Costa Rica's current National Development Plan
(Plan Nacional de Desarrollo 1994-1998) is based on the concept of
sustainable development, following the general principles of Agenda 21. It
is a development strategy intended to promote the transition to a first
stage in the road toward sustainability, providing the initial
"push" required to foster further achievements.
The Government of Costa Rica, under the
coordination of the Ministry of National Planning (MIDEPLAN),) has
promoted two initiatives to push such development strategy, with
implications for the implementation of indicators or sustainable
development. First, the creation of a National System for Sustainable
Development (SINADES), and second, the elaboration of indicators that can
be used for monitoring progress in each of the different dimensions of
sustainable development. The second initiative has led to the
implementation of a System of Indicators of Sustainable Development (SIDeS-
Sistema de Indicadores sobre Desarrollo Sostenible), an effort supported
initially as part a Capacity 21 project aimed at promoting implementation
of Agenda 21.
The System of Indicators of Sustainable
Development (SIDeS) is the program of the Government of Costa Rica on
indicators of sustainable development. It has two main objectives. First,
to have an instrument to follow-up and evaluate the national development
process from a sustainability perspective, and to guide public policies
and decision making-processes in the private and public sectors. And
second, to make available to the civil society relevant information on the
main variables and indicators that illuminate on Costa Rica s sustainable
development progress, thus contributing to democratize information, as
called in Chapter 40 of Agenda 21. SIDeS is part of the National System for Sustainable
Indicators are currently separated in three
components: (1) social and demographic indicators (v.g. social public
expenditures, poverty and income distribution, wages and employment,
education, health, and housing); (2) economic indicators (short term and
long term indicators, including areas like production, investment, savings
and consumption, prices, employment conditions, international trade,
public finance and external debt), and (3) environmental indicators (vg.
land use, urbanization, biodiversity and protected areas, forest
resources, water resources, coastal and marine resources, pollution, solid
waste management, and energy). Currently there is information for about
500 variables and indicators. The system was called initially "System
of Socio-Demographic, Economic and Environmental Indicators".
The implementation of the system has been
facilitated by the relatively good data available in the country,
specially economic and social. Economic data, as in most countries, is the
most reliable and validated data, with good time series dating back to the
1950s. Social data has been consolidating, especially over the last twenty
five years, as a result of a public policy agenda pushed during the 1970s,
which put social policy at the center of government policies. Current
efforts are been concentrated on strengthening the environmental component
of the system, given the shortcoming of this type of data, which has been
scarce, relative to the availability of social and economic data;
scattered, both in time (point estimations for only one or a few
years) and in space (point estimations for very specific locations);
very aggregated, in many cases only available at the national level;
unreliable; when there is more than one measure there are problems
of comparability because the lack of standardized criteria for data
collection and processing; and
disperse, in many institutions and government agencies and usually
it is not shared.
It is important to point that since MIDEPLAN is
not a producer of primary data, current work is focusing on the
strengthening of the relationships between MIDEPLAN and the institutions
providers of information. Also important are efforts devoted to facilitate
electronic access to the data and to divulge information about the system.
A first compilation of indicators was published
by MIDEPLAN in the first quarter of 1995, with data for the period
1980-1994 (Costa Rica: Tendencias Sociodemográficas, Económicas y
Ambientales 1980-1994). In the near future other three publications are
planned, which will include separately the environmental, economic, and
socio-demographic information included in the data base. The environmental
issue will be the first to be printed, under the name of "Principales
Variables e Indicadores Ambientales de Costa Rica" (Main Variables
and Environmental Indicators of Costa Rica). The environmental data is
currently available at the Home Page of the Ministry of Planning (http://www.mideplan.go.cr).
The environmental publication is based on a
compilation of environmental statistics and indicators available in Costa
Rica, contracted by The Ministry of Planning (MIDEPLAN) to the State of
the Nation Project (see below), with resources from a World Bank Grant for
strengthening of Institutional Environmental Planning.
The next stage after the consolidation of the
data base will be the development of summary indicators of sustainable
development, combining social, economic and environmental information.
The creation of the National coordination
mechanism for the testing and evaluation of indicators, has been
accomplished with the appointment of The National Commission on
Information for Sustainable Development (INFODES), in which there is
participation of representatives from the government (Ministry of
Planning, Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Health, Ministry of
Education, General Direction of Statistics and Censuses, and the Central
Bank of Costa Rica), the academic sector (appointed by the public
universities), the business community, and NGOs. (both appointed through
the National Council of Sustainable Development).
As already indicated, the objectives and work
program of this commission are consistent with the activities foreseen for
the testing phase, in terms of promoting the production and use of
information on sustainable development; promoting the establishment of
coordination mechanisms between producers and users of information on
sustainable development; promoting access to sustainable development
information to all sector of society; and promoting the use of
methodological sheets developed following CSR guidelines.
The INFODES commission has already started
promoting activities involving assessment of the use of indicators in the
country, and selecting those indicators based on national priorities and
strategies. This has been the case with the workshops on environmental
statistics celebrated in February and October of 1996.
During the first workshop two main results
where reached. The first result was the distribution of information about
the most relevant environmental statistics available in the country. For
that purpose an inventory of the environmental information produced in the
country was elaborated, through a consulting process with public and
private institutions that produce such information. Also, a working draft
of the document on environmental variables and indicators was distributed
among participants for review and comments.
The second result was the elaboration of a list
of prioritized environmental variables, with priorities based on the
following criteria: national relevance, as defined in the National
Environmental Policy Plan; existence of related data, operational
feasibility for obtaining the data; quality of the data; political
acceptability; relevance for decision-making; urgency of the data; and
The work plan under consideration for the
INFODES commission (see section III-D above), tough focusing on
environmental information, considers many of the recommendations raised in
the guidelines, regarding assessment of: (1) technical issues
(elaboration, discussion, and proposition of methodological sheets,
following CSR guidelines); (2) decision-making issues (regular technical
meetings to involve producers and users of environmental information;
follow-up of the production of environmental information using the
methodological sheets), and (iii) institutional support and capacity
building issues (strengthening the capacity to produce environmental
In addition, during the first workshop on
environmental information (see section IV-B) the activities related to the
elaboration of the inventory of environmental information produced in the
country involved collecting methodological information about the most
important providers of information. Such information included:
basic characteristics of each variable
produced, such a the type of measurement (whether it is continuous or
not); periodicity; time span of the data available and level of
aggregation (national, regional, etc.);
Collection and registry, such as the type of
producer (primary or secondary), procedures used to collect information,
aggregation of data (national, regional, etc), methodological guidelines
to produce information, the data product (paper, electronic, etc); and use
of the information, such as the main internal use, the main external
users, external accessibility, and services provided to external users.
The proceedings of the First Workshop on
Environmental Statistics have been published and distributed among the
participants in the event and other interested parties. This publication
can be considered a reporting activity in line with the objectives of the
Following Agenda 21 provisions, the Central
American countries subscribed to the Alianza Centroamericana para el
Desarrollo Sostenible (ALIDES), This Alliance is the vehicle to
materialize the Agenda 21 mandates relevant to sustainable development in
the Central american region.
At the country level, ALIDES envisages the
constitution of national entities for Sustainable Development. In el
Salvador, approval of Executive Decree Nº 38 dated 13 May 1996,
established the Consejo Nacional para el Desarrollo Sostenible (CNDS).
Currently, this decree is under revision in order to make the Consejo more
responsive to the evolving policy demands of sustainable development at
the national, departmental and local levels.
The Consejo Nacional para el Desarrollo
Sostenible is a high level entity headed by the Vice President of the
Republic. Its membership comprises most sectoral ministries, private
sector institutions and NGO's related to Sustainable Development operating
in the country.
It is expected that forthcoming revisions of
this institutional framework, will lead among other things, to the
apppointment of a focal point for the testing and evaluation of relevant
sustainable development indicators.
Due to the current preliminary status of
organization at the national level in relation to sustainable development
Indicators Coordinating Mechanisms, only an introductory review of
indicators has been conducted. Therefore, no testing is in progress at
this juncture, as yet.
Preliminary relationship between national
priorities and strategies and indicators to be selected for testing in El
1. Social Aspects of Sustainable Development
Poverty alleviation, and increase access to public services.
Generation of Productive Employment.
Promoting education, public awareness and training
Protecting and promoting human health.
Data availability and quality: From medium
to high. However, the main problem is te lack of uniformity in some of the
indicators in this area.
2. Economic Aspects of Sustainable Development
Translate economic growth into sustainable development.
Attract foreign investment linked to the demands of a globalized
Promote local socio-economic development.
Matching Indicators: Transfer of
environmentally sound technology, cooperation and capacity building.
Data availability and quality: From medium
to high. The Central Reserve Bank provides official data on the country's
3. Environmental Aspects of Sustainable
Watershed management and soil conservation
Combat Deforestation and Forest Protection
Protection of the quality and supply of freshwater resources.
Conservation of biological diversity.
Protection of the atmosphere.
Promoting sustainable agricultural and rural development.
Data availability and quality: Minimum to
none. It is not until very recently, that efforts have started in order to
gather indicators on development and environmentally related issues.
4. Institutional Aspects of Development
Strengthening institutional capacity of public and private entities
Participation of civil society in decision making.
Strengthening the role of major groups.
Information for decision making.
Data availability and quality: Medium to
fair. More reliable data could be refined if so desired.
Some Key National Efforts On Selected Aspects On
(A) Human Sustainable Development Program(PDHS)
According to national priorities, this program
consists in the strenghtening of local capacities for planning,
implementation, monitoring and evaluation of sustainable human
development. The first satge of this projecet will cover four out of the
14 departamanets of the country. Its four main areas are: Poverty
alleviation, Governability, Diversification of Productive Activities and
Reversal of Environmental Deterioration.
This programe will be monitored and evaluated
through a Geographic Information System (GIS) combined with selected human
development indicators focused mostly in the local level. The user
friendly design of this system will, in turn, be utilized by all
interested users through a Web Page for PDHS in the Internet.
(B) Release of periodic Human Development
Reports(HDR) at the national, departmental and local levels.
In order to facilitate planning of development
projects and disemination of information on human development in the
country and among the international organizations and NGOs, some key
information and key indicators are expected to be released periodically.
To this end, the UNDP Office in El Salvador,
hired a team of consultants, so that in coordination with the National
Statistics Office will be in charge of producing the updated HDI for the
national and departamental level. The first reports are expected to be
released in June 1997.
(C) Capacity building in sustainable development
to all governmental ranks dealing with sustainable development indicators.
The National Environmental Secretariat has
arranged , with support from the WB and USAID, the provision of courses
and training in order to increase awareness and debate leading to the
incorporation of sustainability in development . This includes the
establishment of "green accounts" and sdi at the national level.
(D) Establishment of a Unit within the National
Environment Secretariat on Environmental Indicators.
With the support of UNDP for an initial trial
period of two years, this unit will be the basis for calculation and use
of environmental indicators I for policy development at the national level
in the long run.
General Objectives Regarding Environmental
Protection and Improvement
Modernize environmental legislation and specification of
Reduce air, water and soil pollution.
Investigate, utilize and rescue biodiversity through the promotion
of - among others - the development of protected areas.
Promote the inclusion of environmental aspects in educational
Reduce the speed of deforestation and promote reforestation as well
as productive forestry activities at the regional level.
Appropriately manage water basins in order to guarantee the
utilization of water resources as regards quantity and quality
Principal Problems Related To Sustainable
During the last three decades, the
environmental situation in Guatemala has been deteriorating rapidly due to
the interaction of various factors: the level of poverty resulting from
the lack of opportunities which causes a large part of the population to
exploit the environment in order to satisfy its basic needs; the use of
production processes highly detrimental to the natural environment; the
limited impact of public policies and institutions related to the
environment; the absence of environmental considerations in the
formulation of economic and social policies as well as productive
investment; and the general lack of environmental education and
consciousness. This has caused an environmental situation of alarming
proportions, in the context of which the main problems are: deforestation,
soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and air, water and soil pollution.
Deforestation: The soils suitable for forestry
comprise 51.1% of the national territory while the actual deforestation
indicator is 34%. The annual deforestation rate is estimated at 90,000 ha.
The principal causes of deforestation are the substitution of forests for
agriculture and livestock production, the felling of trees for firewood
and industrial uses as well as forest fires. Some 97% of the wood cut is
being burnt in the field or used as fuel; 17 million cubic meters of wood
are used as firewood annually and only 2% is utilized in industrial
Soil Erosion: The main erosion occurs on over
utilized land, i.e. steeply inclined areas on which plants of low economic
and ecological value are grown. Some 68,000 km2 are highly susceptible to
erosion where an estimated soil loss of between 36 to 122 tons is observed
every year while in certain areas of the country erosion reaches 1,100
Loss of Biodiversity: There are no precise
indicators regarding the loss of biodiversity, but it is known that the
degree of extinction of animal and plant species - and, therefore, of
genetic material - is considerable.
Pollution: The inappropriate use of
agro-chemicals as well as industrial and domestic waste cause serious
water pollution to which one needs to add the deterioration of air quality
due to gas and particle emission from industry and vehicles which poses a
growing problem in urban areas.
National Coordination Mechanisms for
Environmentally Sustainable Development
A large number of institutions exists in
Guatemala which directly or indirectly relate to environmentally
sustainable development. Especially the National System of Rural and Urban
Development Councils is promoting the sustainable development strategy at
the national and local level in which the Planning Secretariat (SEGEPLAN)
is responsible for the formulation, coordination, implementation and
revision of sustainable development plans. Other institutions involved in
that area are:
the Environmental Cabinet;
the National Environmental Commission (CONAMA);
the Environmental Policy Committee; and
the Guatemalan Environmental Fund (FOGUAMA).
The National System of Rural and Urban
Development Councils was installed in order to organize and coordinate
public administration through the formulation of development policies and
to promote the organization and participation of the population in the
country s integrated development. This System consists of the national
(one council), regional (8 councils), departmental (20 councils) and
municipal (330 councils) levels.
The National Council consists of the President
of the Republic who is chairing it, the line ministries, the Planning
Secretariat, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector,
universities and civil society. This Council is responsible for the
organization and coordination of public administration and the formulation
of development and zoning policies.
The Environmental Cabinet is being coordinated
by the Vice-president of the Republic and consists of the National
Environmental Commission, the Planning Secretariat and the sector
ministries. In addition, this Cabinet receives technical advice from
specialized agencies. Its prime objective is the institutional
coordination necessary to establish a uniform, precise and coherent course
of action between the entities involved in the problems and requirements
related to environmentally sustainable development.
The National Environmental Commission (CONAMA)
depends directly on the Presidency of the Republic and its function is to
advise on and coordinate all measures related to the formulation and
implementation of the national environmental protection and improvement
policy. It has at its disposal a Technical Advisory Council which up to
now has been supervising environmental impact assessments (EIAs) in order
to determine the best option to achieve sustainable development. The
formulation of a draft "General Law for the Environment and Natural
Resources" is one of CONAMA s recent achievements. This draft law
proposes the creation of an Environment and Natural Resources Ministry
which should replace CONAMA and comprise other institutions related to the
The Integrated and Sustainable Development Strategy
The current administration s development
strategy has been established in the Government Program 1996-2000 which
provides for three main areas of action, called commitments, namely:
Political commitment to liberty to construct peace, democracy and justice: Its fundamental elements are democratic coexistence, strengthening the state of law and judicial security; unity in cultural diversity; and modernization, decentralization and deconcentration of the public sector. Within this commitment, a Peace Program has been established, named "Guatemala s opportunity investing in national reconciliation, democracy and sustainable development".
Economic commitment to productive investment:
It calls for investment to improve production and standards of living;
infrastructure improvement at the national level; local development; and
the establishment of general, positive, clear and stable economic rules.
Social commitment to integrated human
development: Its main components are improvements in education and culture
oriented towards work, coexistence and peace; a healthy population;
environmental protection and improvement; and the establishment of a
country of proprietors.
Profile of the Information and Sustainable
Development Indicator in Guatemala
Up to now, only development indicators -
instead of sustainable development indicators - have been used in
Guatemala. The most important indicators are the following:
A National System of Social Indicators has been
developed which aims at the generation of information required for the
evaluation of the impact of the Poverty Alleviation Program and other
Government plans and programs. For example, the following indicators may
In education: illiteracy rate, enrollment
according to area, ethnic group, sex and age, repetition rate,
student-teacher ratio at the pre-school, primary and secondary levels,
education budget in relation to the GDP, public education expenditure etc.
In health: infant mortality, life expectancy,
fertility, maternal mortality, low birth weight, mortality due to
diarrhea, respiratory infections etc. There are also health indicators
according to ethnic groups, such as medical child-delivery services,
midwife services, breast-feeding periods, knowledge and use of birth
control methods, vaccination, etc.
Indicators related to drinking water and waste
water disposal, housing, rural development, culture and cultural heritage
are also available.
There are indicators on economic growth, GDP,
bank deposits, money in circulation, consumer price indices, interest
rates etc. Furthermore, regarding productive activities, the following
examples may be mentioned:
Agriculture: shares in GDP, total employment,
exports, public investment, imports of agricultural inputs etc.
Industry: industrial activity index, electric
energy consumption in industry, raw material imports, credit to industry
Commerce: imports of goods, credit to
commerce, credit card transactions etc.
Tourism: tourist arrivals according to origin,
foreign exchange earnings, average expenditure per tourist, hotel
capacity, hotel occupancy rates etc.
Environment and Natural Resources
Basically, the following indicators are in
use: deforestation rate; use of wood for firewood; forest areas; soil
suitability, utilization and productive capacity; actual and potential
land use; erosion susceptibility; rainfall; temperatures; mineral
resources; protected areas etc.
Status of indicator development and use in
Mexico has achieved considerable progress in
developing environmental information. For instance, in 1995 the first
compendium on environment statistics was published and actually the second
compendium is being prepared which will be printed by middle of present
year. In 1996 an exercise on the System of Economic and Environmental
Accounts was also published, and every two years, since 1986, the
bi-annual environment state report is published. It is also very important
mention that in 1996 the first assessment of environmental performance was
initiated by OECD (and it will conclude by early 1998), which has
implicated for Mexico an enormous challenge in order to compile and/or
produce the most of environment indicators required.
It may be said that at the present, the
exercises on environmental and sustainability indicators are trying to
link environment information with other demographic, economic and social
data. It is necessary to incorporate and/or specify into these indicators,
as the Methodological Sheets point out: objectives, national strategies,
targets and priorities, among others issues.
Several institutions are designing
environmental digital information systems. Nevertheless, they are still
isolated and disperse exercises, they are elaborated following genuine
methodological or procedures frames, and it need to be integrated into a
In Mexico there are a great number of
non-governmental organizations, with a high potential of activities and
mobilization, but the information about them and their activities related
to sustainable development is insufficient. Their role is very important
and it has a significative impact at the level local, but such activities
are do not known and recognized by public opinion.
According to the OECD preliminary
environmental performance assessment report on Mexico (October, 1996) the
present environmental information does not sufficiently support the
sustainable development policy directions adopted by Mexico, and it is
therefore important to adapt the Mexican Environmental Information System
to support progress towards national and international objectives of
In order to generate environmental information
according to international standards and parameters, it is required to
promote the methodological sheets frame at the national level and among
the different institutions. In the short term, to review and/or adapt the
current environment statistics into the requirements of indicators of
sustainable development will be necessary.
There are certain conditions to progress in
that respect: the commitment of Mexico for Agenda 1, which is incorporated
into the National Plan of Development, 1995-2000; the compendium and
reports mentioned at the beginning; a lot quantity of available basic
statistics; a greater contact and interchange between data producers and
users; Mexico participates in regional and bilateral co-operation schemes,
which requires to monitor some environmental aspects; and finally, the
environmental performance assessment carried out by OECD has encouraged to
reinforce and/or generate information not only within administration
public but also in the private sector, as well as the NGO, research
centers, universities, etcetera.
Environmental Data Availability
Based on the findings of Survey of the Present
State of Environment Information in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1996,
conducted by ECLAC and INEGI, the overall level of regional availability
comes to 77 percent. The remaining 23 percent represents variables for
which information is either not available, not applicable, or not known
whether it is available in the countries. Inter-institutional availability
of environment statistics for the region countries is as follow: the
availability of environment statistics for the region countries is as
follow: 51.1 percent of all variables generated in the ten environmental
categories are produced by the organization responsible for the
environment; other entities such as ministries, secretariats, autonomous
and/or decentralized institutions are responsible for 24 percent;18
percent of the information is in charge of, among others, non-governmental
organizations, universities and research institutes; and the National
Statistical Offices participation in the generation of information is
equal to 6.5 percent. In the case of Mexico, the percentages are,
respectively: 57, 26, 6 and 11 percent.
In Mexico, responsibility for generating
environment and sustainability information and for data collection,
compilation and analysis resides in several institutions, although there
are two national agencies direct and mainly involved: the Secretariat of
Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries (SEMARNAP) and the National
Institute of Statistics, Geography and Informatics (INEGI).
The first is in charge of prescribing,
conducting and assessing the general environmental policy and therefore it
is responsible for all environmental information. In addition, the
National Institute of Ecology (INE), a body dependent on SEMARNAP, has
already some environment indicators related to air pollution, wastes,
climate change, ozone layer, wildlife, among others. This indicators are
structured according to Driving Force-State-Response Frame.
The second institution INEGI plays an
important role because has an explicit legal mandate to produce and
collect all the statistic and geographic information, which is gathered
from population censuses, surveys on establishments and households and on
economic performance, as well as administrative records. It also uses
satellite images and aerial photo to produce maps. Briefly, INEGI
generates mostly the basic information which is used by all of the
institutions involving in the generation of environment and sustainability
indicators, and actually it has plans for elaborating indicators on
In 1995 both institutions signed an
arrangement of co-operation, which is operating for elaborating the
compendium on environment statistics and also to prepare the Environment
State Report. Therefore, it is needed to establish a national
inter-agencies mechanism (committee) which does have a specific mandate to
co-ordinate the handling and processing of environmental information.
Responsibility for producing environment and
sustainability indicators is shared by governmental and non-governmental
institutions and it is supported by national initiatives, such us the
INEGI-SEMARNAP Agreement of Collaboration, as well as bilateral and
international programmes and activities. For instance, Mexico is member of
the Commission for Environment Cooperation as part of the North American
Free Trade Agreement; it carries out the Border XXI co-operative programme
with the United States to monitor the environmental protection activities
on the border area.
In addition, the new 1996 General Law of
Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection include a comprehensive
view of environmental problems, recognizes the people s right to
environment information, provides a sound legislative basis for protecting
the environment, and include the concepts of sustainable development and
efficient use of natural resources. It is expected that this law will
contribute to develop more information.
The institutional work above mentioned is a
platform for the testing phase to develop indicators in Mexico. It is sure
that the use of Methodology Sheets will increase the quantity and will
better the quality of the available environment statistics and indicators.
Key national sustainable development issues
Considering the current state of indicators
(generally focused to environmental impact), as well as the environmental
problems and the priorities for sustainable development of Mexico, it
would be possible to develop and strengthen a priority set of indicators
of sustainable on the following topics:
Air pollution of cities
River water quality
Energy uses and production
Implement a system of coastal water quality
Implement a hazardous waste inventory
Environment expenditures focusing on sustainability and
Poverty and issues on equity in the use of resources.
Panama does not have a program on indicators
of sustainable development, as such, but compiles statistical information
which is managed by the Controller General of Panama. This compiled
Physical aspects - climate
Demographic conditions - population, vital statistics, migration
Economic situation - agriculture, livestock, fishing, industrial
structure, manufacturing production, construction, electricity and
gas, domestic trade, transportation, communication, balance of trade,
national account, public finance, bank, insurance, mercantile
registration, prices, consumption, production and marketing of water.
Social situation - housing, social security, health services,job,
salaries, traffic accidents.
Cultural conditions - education
Justice - justice
To incorporate environmental statistics into
the system, the Government created the National Commission of Statistics
of the Environment (CONEMA) in July 1996, which includes the Controller
General of Panama, the Ministry of Planning and Economical Policy (MIPPE),
the National Institute of Natural Renewable Resources (INRENARE) and the
Inter-Oceanic Regional Authority of the Panama Canal (ARI).
124. The objectives of this Commission are:
to implement a series of environmental statistics into the National
Statistical Environment System;
to establish the basis to create national environmental accounts and
to incorporate them to the National Accounting System, in accordance
with the United Nations standards
This Commission made an inquiry based on the
recommendation of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the
Caribbean (ECLAC) to update the status of environmental information in
1996. The research determined that there is an important volume of
information which needs to be reclassified, compiled, managed and stored.
The recently created National Statistical
Environment System integrated 11 governmental organizations, one
non-governmental institution and the Panama Canal Commission. The
objective of this system is to collaborate with the Department of
Statistics and Census and CONEMA to reach their objectives and to
implement the proposed plan of work.
With all this information, the country is
establishing the basis of having indicators that could aid in the
sustainable development of the country.
Regarding the specific topic of
"Sustainable Forest Development," Panama participated in
regional meetings organized by The Central American Commission of
Environmental Development (CCAD) where criteria and indicators of
sustainable forest management were established. In this context, Panama is
working with the following indicators:
Control and evaluation of forest management plans;
Quantity of remaining trees for seeds per hectare managed;
Quantity of extracted trees per hectare;
Delimitation of forest managed areas;
Annual extraction of trees by species;
Surface and percentage of the total protected areas of natural
Measurement to prevent and to control forest fires;
Control and conservation of watersheads.
Venezuela institutionalized its environmental
management with the creation of the Ministry of the Environment and
Natural Renewable Resources in 1977. In this respect it is a pioneering
country in Latin America. More recently, however, when asked to identify
its main achievements at international fora, only general figures could be
provided, despite the numerous environmental control programmes that had
Towards 1992, the environmental authorities
became increasingly concerned by this fact, and began to show interest in
obtaining information about what other countries were doing in this
respect. Consequently,in 1993 the decision was made to develop an
Environmental Statistics Programme, leading to the creation of a Centre
for Environmental Statistics.
The development of the environmental
statistics programme was based on two fundamental facts: (i) the
acknowledgment of the existence of environmental problems; and (ii) the
existence of an institution responsible for their solution. That is to
say, environmental problems were studied as well as the measures
implemented to solve them, which are basically executed through the
Ministry of the Environment. The actual causes of the environmental
problems. were not explicitly included in the analysis.
In addition to these basic aspects, other
factors of a procedural nature were considered, such as sources of
information, information gathering mechanisms; norms for the revision,
analysis and processing of environmental data. With these elements in mind
as an initial step, the Centre's structure would be outlined, and the
necessary investment for its development be estimated. adopted: (a)
historical-documentary, and (b) testimonial, through the opinion of
sectoral and thematic experts. The sectors considered were: oil,
petrochemical and coal; iron and aluminium, hydro-electricity, forestry,
fisheries, mining, agricultural, industrial and urban.
The environmental issues were initially
grouped into: (i) urban, (ii) demographic, (iii) educational, (iv)
exploitation of natural resources, (v) institutional capacities. This
initial grouping revealed the awareness of analysts about the causes and
problems alike. However, the need to stick to the Ministry's competences
dominated, and the focus remained on the solution of the problems.
The identification of the Ministry's
responsibilities, was made according to the mandates established in the
existing legislation. The consideration of that legislation allowed the
identification of other responsibilities outside the competence of the
Ministry of the Environment. The analysis of responsibilities covered the
competences on a nation-wide, regional and descentralized basis.
To establish environmental indicators, an
analysis was made of each issue, which covered causes, effects, and its
sequencial breakdown. With these elements an initial series of indicators
obtained from various sources was proposed, and presented and discussed in
The resulting series was submitted to a
meticulous examination to evaluate the possibility of their development
(analysis of data sources) and their ability to measure and communicate:
(a) the degree of environmental degradation and (b) the effectiveness of
the responses. The result was a group of environmental indicators which
were used as a basis for the preparation of the Venezuelan State of the
This brief synthesis of the process followed
shows that the indicators developed then respond basically to
environmental criteria, thus they are not directed to measure the progress
towards sustainable development.
As previously indicated, the identification of
the environmental issues and the establishment of environmental indicators
was made through the participation of all sectors involved by means of
interviews and workshops, in order to reflect their opinion.
Despite this fact that the Venezuelan SOE
report has been published as a document that is intentionally open to a
wide national debate, to be improved upon and adapted to the needs of
decision makers and public interests, including politicians, the media,
Environmental matters, including the
orientation of the investments and the development of the norms and
regulations, and the legal system. Additionally, they will consider the
aspects to be dealt with at national, regional or local level.
Therefore it is necessary that the indicators
developed are understandable for the decision makers, and at the same time
they are able to measure the degree of natural resources depletion, or
changes in the quality of the environment.
One of the most important considerations was
the financing of the programme. The solution adopted was to contract a
consultancy firm to do the initial work of the formulation of the SOE
report, and subsequently to set up the Centre with a minimum staff at
first, with the responsibility of creating the framework and process for
an integrated environmental system to be developed upon the existing
systems operating within the Ministry of the Environment.
Ultimately the Centre will be expected to
provide information access and interpretation, including regular
"State of the Environment" reports and special bulletins on key
A second stage includes the possibility of
obtaining funds from international cooperation and/or financing, to enable
the Centre to provide improved and integrated information so that
decisions can be made taking all key environmental factors into account,
as well as to continue to publish and improve the successive SOE reports.
During the process of preparation of the
Balance Ambiental de Venezuela, we had access to the existing published
information mainly from developed countries and international agencies. We
also had the opportunity to visit the United Kingdom and France, which
allowed us to come into direct contact and learn from the experiences of
the various organizations responsible for the preparation of State of the
Environment reports both at national and global level.
Political leverage was basic for the
establishment of the Environmental Statistics and Information Centre, in
this sense is has been important for Venezuela to participate actively in
international events, as well as a continued communication with
The institutional response was planned
according to the resources available and its future will depend on the
benefit it represents to the social actors.