From 4 to 8 September, representatives of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, The Gambia, Malawi, Namibia and Senegal met together with representatives from Kenya, UNECA, UN Statistics Division (UNSD), UN Environment, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the African Development Bank (AfDB) came together to discuss how to improve environment statistics production, analysis, and dissemination in their respective national contexts. The participating countries were selected based on the results of the final assessment of the knowledge acquired during the e-training.
The regional seminar is part of the Capacity Building Programme on Environment Statistics in Africa jointly initiated and conducted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), and UN Environment, and to be carried out in three phases, namely the e-training module, face-to-face seminar, and for a group of selected pilot countries, national workshops and technical assistance. The Capacity Building Programme on Environment Statistics in Africa is partially funded by the 10th tranche of United Nations Development Accounts Project (the DA Project).
The purpose of the regional seminar was to deepen knowledge and skills of the participants in environment statistics and to lay a ground to produce good quality environment statistics in countries. Specifically, it was expected that through the regional seminar, participants would have a better understanding of the concepts, definitions, and classifications of statistics and indicators in the Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics (FDES); a good discussion of the data sources, collection, processing, and compilation of statistics and indicators; and review and exchange of the best practices on how to develop and implement a national action plan on the compilation of a compendium of environment statistics.
The UNSD, UN Environment, UNECA, and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) opened the meeting. The importance of building national environment statistical systems for improving environmental outcomes was highlighted at the opening. UN Environment and UNECA presented the objectives of the 10th tranche of the DA Project, the seminar, and the broader Programme on Environment Statistics in Africa.
There is strong need to improve environment statistics compilation and use and the importance of the FDES 2013 as a framework. The participants discussed the role of national, regional and international monitoring systems for the monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). During the first session, UNSD demonstrated how the FDES can be used as a framework for assessing environment statistics needs, priorities, data sources and data quality. UN Environment provided an overview of the process for monitoring the environmental dimension of the SDGs, including the role of the Custodian UN Agencies in reporting data at the international level. Participants recognized that at all levels (national, regional, and international) the monitoring system relies on national level data compilation. This emphasis on national information has placed an increased demand for environment statistics.
Representatives from Kenya shared their work on the topics of atmosphere, climate and weather statistics, water and wastes statistics, data sharing and environment statistics strategic development. The presentations enabled participants to better understand the challenges involved in collecting both primary and secondary data and in transforming the data into statistics; as well as their use in environmental management and policy development. Key points were the importance of disaggregated data, the need to address challenges in coordinating a large number of stakeholders, including the informal sector, methodological issues in environment statistics and the potential of new data sources, such as earth observations data. UN Environment also presented the Indicator Reporting Information System (IRIS) and participants recognized the value of coupling work on a data sharing system with work on improving environment statistical capacity and institutional mechanisms.
It was also highlighted that much data is already available in countries, but there are challenges in accessing and sharing the data available, pointing to the need for further strengthening collaboration and institutional structures.