The Role of EU Sustainable Development Indicators – Reflection before Rio+20
Viktoria J. Bolla
Statistical Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Sustainable development is a fundamental, overarching Treaty objective of the European Union, and measuring progress towards this goal is an integral part of the 2006 renewed EU strategy. Eurostat is entrusted with monitoring and evaluating the Sustainable Development Strategy of the European Union. To this end, a set of Sustainable Development Indicators (SDI) was developed by experts of the European Statistical System. The EU SDS is rooted from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 as well as from the United Nation's work on SD indicators in the nineties.

The SDI framework allows characterising and relating aspects of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy. This is to assist the interpretation of indicators to each other and allowing the information provided by the portfolio of indicators to be greater than the sum of its parts. Providing an objective statistical picture of progress toward SD objectives and targets is essential for evidence-based policy making. Regular monitoring makes it possible to see whether Europe is moving in the right direction.

This paper takes stock of the experience of Eurostat with measuring and monitoring sustainable development. By describing the background and the state-of-play the authors intend to inspire professionals to draw conclusions and think ahead of the Rio+20 conferences. The goal of the Rio+20 conference is to take stock, promote what works, adopt concrete goals and targets, and lay a foundation for a sustainable future. This paper covers the process of creating the SDI framework, challenges to use official statistics, the on-going discussions on different ways of measurement and the various roles that SDIs play.

Keywords: Sustainable development indicators; Evidence-based policy making; EU sustainable development strategy; Rio+20

Biography: Ms Viktoria Bolla is an economist with an Msc in monetary control and intercultural communication. Ms Bolla currently works for the Statistical Office of the European Union in the unit responsible for key indicators.