'The Journal of Transdisciplinary Environmental Studies' (TES)
Volume 2, Number 2, Jan. 2003

ISSN 1602-2297

The Policy Use of Environmental Indicators
- Learning from Evaluation Research

Henrik Gudmundsson
Department of Policy Analysis, National Environmental Research Institute, Denmark, and
FLUX- Centre for Transport Research, Department of Environment, Technology and Social Studies,
Roskilde University, Denmark
Email: hgu@ruc.dk

Abstract: Environmental indicators and monitoring systems are increasingly used, but what does the use of indicators mean for policymaking? The article exploits indicator theory and the evaluation research literature to develop an analytical framework so as to study the policy uses of indicators. The paper then provides a tentative analysis of the so-called Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM) developed by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The results suggest that a limited direct policy use of TERM occurs while so-called ‘symbolic’ use is detected. This may partly be due to the short history of the TERM system and partly to the lack of accountability mechanisms. The article concludes that the analytical framework and the concepts derived from evaluation research are useful starting points, but that further research should extend the analysis to other policy contexts (national or local) and broaden the methodology to incorporate interviews.

Key Words: Indicators, transport, policy, monitoring, evaluation

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