The importance of measurable targets

20 years after the Rio Earth Summit, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) this year released the GEO-5 report. Since the inception of UNEP in 1972 there have been an impressive array of international treaties about the environment, over 500 in fact. But do we know how effective these treaties have been and do they go far enough?

According to Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP, the goals that are specific and measurable “appear to have a much better record of success”.  These include goals to phase out ozone depleting substances, certain persistent organic pollutants (POP)s, targets to increase the number and extend of protected areas and to halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water.

Many other goals have not been achieved and others are non-specific and aspirational in nature making them difficult to track. One example is the aim of improving global freshwater quality…..  a good ambition but how does one measure its achievement or non-achievement?

Voluntary action by individuals and businesses face the same challenge. Once a commitment is made to improve an element of environmental or social sustainability, the targets need to be set so that they are specific and measurable with performance indicators.  This in turn enables the setting up of data gathering and sustainability reporting.

Down load the report at :

8 thoughts on “The importance of measurable targets

  • Bernard W.
    December 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks for pointing me to this succinct summary about the state of the environment. This is a very useful summary from a reliable source – the UN. It puts all the information in one place and the graphics are excellent. I’ll be using some of this material in our environmental awareness and induction training next year. Cheers B.

  • Tut
    December 15, 2012 at 5:43 am

    They only always have one tagert which is to stay in power and to put forward positions and dollars to tagerted voters whom they think will return them to power, hoping always to get a majority. They know that if the Liberals do not support this budget, no matter how inadequate it will be, they have enough in it to run an election campaign. They are also pretty confident that the G.G. will grant an election, since the P.M. will argue that he has consulted broadly and still the opposition refuses to accept it, then he must be allowed to go to the “people” i.e. election to settle matters. Just some of my thoughts!!

    • Orme
      December 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Tut,
      The transition to sustainability is an imperative for all of humanity which shouldn’t be highjacked by either the left or the right. Politicans on both sides state untruths to further their political ambitions and stay in power. This is the reality of the “democracy” we have. The only solution is an enlightened population who know the real facts and exercise their own free will to make informed choices and decisions. Lets put sustainability above politics.

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