Statistics and indicators are critical tools for evidence-based policy-making and for socioeconomic planning. They are needed to assess the current situation, to set objectives for the future, and to measure progress towards achieving national and international development goals. Countries of West Asia and of Latin America and the Caribbean strongly depend on their natural resources to support their economic growth. To date however, ESCWA member countries still face major challenges in developing reliable, high quality, timely and exchangeable environmental information including environmental statistics, indicators and accounting, (Environmental Statistics or ES for short) to strengthen assessment and decision–making processes. In most of the ESCWA member countries, environment statistics have not been developed as part of their statistical systems and environment accounts have not been integrated with their National Accounts, despite the economic implications of major environmental problems in the region, such as water scarcity, land degradation and fossil-fuel energy production and consumption. On the other hand, ECLAC countries, which have recently started developing such statistics, are not fully taking advantage of all potential regional resources and synergies.
The challenge remains on how to organize and systematize a national environmental statistical system, by deploying coordinated and long-term efforts at the regional level. The purpose of such a system would be to improve capacity building on production of quality ES through courses, workshops, technical assistance, knowledge management and networking.