Academic journal article The Economic and Labour Relations Review : ELRR

Integrating Environmental and Economic Data: Reporting to Create a National Accounting Framework for the Environment

Academic journal article The Economic and Labour Relations Review : ELRR

Integrating Environmental and Economic Data: Reporting to Create a National Accounting Framework for the Environment

Article excerpt

Data, Information and Management

The erosion of specific land, forestry and fish stocks; a general loss of biodiversity; the transformation of the atmosphere, the climate and the extreme events generated by it have led to the development of some information to manage specific environmental problems but grossly inadequate attention has been paid to developing the information that links these problems to the society and economy that is creating them. The information necessary to allow the regular, rational and systematic management of these systematic problems is absent. At the present time there is still insufficient knowledge at the natural scientific level to fully understand the nature and dynamics of those environmental resource stocks utilised directly by human society, let alone those indirectly effected by this use. The role of environmental values in contributing to human welfare as 'free' goods or even as part of the monetised market economy is also little known in many areas. This knowledge 'deficit' is being addressed in a number of ways, but much more basic research, interpretation and disclosure is required if communities are to move towards the goal of achieving environmentally sustainable development.

The knowledge deficit in relation to the environment has been recognised for a long time. Global representative bodies such as the UN and its agencies and global institutions like the World Bank, regional organizations like the EC and ASEAN, sectoral groups like the OECD having been urging an improvement in the scale and standard of reporting on the environment (see UNEP 1992, ABS 2001a, OECD 1995, 2001). Peak industry and labour bodies as well as organisational representative groups at the global and local level have recognised the importance of research and data collection and advocated improvements. International bodies have taken the initiative in calling for government collection of information on a common basis and the integration of it so that the activity of environmental and human systems and sub-systems can be commonly understood. Given the complexity and range of research and development of information required it is unsurprising that progress in developing this information has been slow. The reasons for the slow progress in knowledge development and its disclosure is related to the nature of the knowledge required and the resistance of some organizations and governments to see it as a policy and program priority (ASEC 2001).

Knowledge of the environment in Australia, like many other countries, is primarily based on the research findings of the natural sciences; social and interdisciplinary studies; organisational analysis and accounting that are often not done with the environment as a major focus. The understanding of the natural sciences of the environment is, as we would expect, as partial as that of the social sciences. The approach and perspective of the social sciences is also shaped by the philosophies about, and practices of society and this has created a range of problems in developing adequate reporting regimes for society, let alone for managing the environment in a sustainable way.

The knowledge 'deficit' in practice has not and does not preclude policy development and action to address environmentally related problems. The use of the 'precautionary principle' that incorporates an assessment of risk provides the basis for action in the case of incomplete information--as it is for policy development around the problem of global climate change. However, the nature of ecosystem management issues themselves means different kinds of information are required for different levels of problems. The UNEP/GRID-Arendal group with the support of a wide range of interdisciplinary research is developing a range of frameworks to assist in the process of designing and delivering appropriate environmental information for a range of policy and practical purposes (Denisov and Christoffersen 2001). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.