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Environmental Outlook 2018: What Environmental Indicators (do not) tell us: a Meta-Analysis

Issue 29-11-2018This research was carried out as part of the ‘Environmental Outlook 2018’ and provided the necessary scientific underpinning.

Indicators are particularly useful to document, analyse and monitor the state of the environment. By monitoring over two hundred indicators, MIRA keeps the finger on the pulse of the environment in Flanders (www.milieurapport.be).

The question is how these Flemish environmental indicators have evolved over the past decades. There are certainly numerous positive trends, but recently they appear to have slowed down. Moreover, the impact on humans, nature and the economy remains quite important, and in Flanders a substantial part of the environmental pressure is also passed on to other (geographical) regions. Some indicators even show a persistently negative trend. Despite the attention for, and relative growth of, environmentally friendly alternatives, their share is still small. In the background document drawn up by the staff of the Environmental Reporting Unit of the Flanders Environment Agency, these findings are illustrated with concrete indicators.

Despite the active environmental policy of the past decades, improvements to our environment are too little and too slow. Moreover, our societal systems – energy, mobility, food – are also under pressure from global megatrends such as demographic developments and climate change. Conventional environmental policy is reaching its limits. The analysis of the environmental indicators illustrates the need for a new approach that develops solutions from an integrative perspective to make our societal systems resilient and more sustainable. The further analysis of these solutions is contained in the other background documents to the Environmental Outlook 2018.

researchers: Bob Peeters, Hugo Van Hooste, Johan Brouwers, Sander Devriendt, Igor Struyf, Erika Vander Putten, Floor Vandevenne, Marleen Van Steertegem (Environmental Reporting Unit, VMM)

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