The major challenge is to allow, at different levels of access, the organisation of the existing environmental data and information, the integration of them as needed with those ones from the social and economic realms and with analysis tools; finally the possibility of communicating them to the public in an easily understandable way. To do it, ‘collaboration' and ‘coordination' are essential key words in the choice of working criteria and methods.On the other hand the formulation of environmental policies and the monitoring of impacts relies on the availability and quality of data and information: measuring the environmental footprint of human activities requires then holistic approach, inter-disciplinary and institutional cooperation and access to a vast amount of data. However the access to and management of information and services is still very fragmented, suffering from heterogeneity (in organisation, system architecture, technical implementation, data structure and also data policy). An interconnection of the many information sources is needed.

Upon the above general considerations and in dialogue with the Member States, the European Community has recently agreed about the concept of a Shared Environmental Information System for Europe (SEIS). The scope of SEIS is to establish an integrated and sustainable environmental information system to improve the sharing of data within Europe and beyond, and leading to an improvement of data and information quality, as well as of its management, use and dissemination.  

Environmental information flow according to the SEIS principles (Source: EEA)



SEIS does not plan new data acquisition: it is to be built incrementally upon the existing information and systems of the EU Member. I.e. its concepts are similar to the ones of the INSPIRE directive for spatial information in Europe:

§  information should be managed as closely as possible to its source

§  information is provided once and shared with others for many purposes

§  information should be easily accessible to clients in order to enable comparisons at the appropriate geographical scale

§  information should be publicly available after due consideration of the appropriate aggregation level, confidentiality, and at national level in the national language(s)

SEIS is an evolution, not a revolution, and it will be based on a Network of public information providers: this concept reflects, on the one hand, the European commitment to open society and governance, and, on the other hand, the actual possibilities offered by information and communication technology. Its implementation will contribute considerably to replace or reduce many of the existing diverse reporting requirements, while at the same time improving the access to the information and the assessment needed for the policy work.