Reliable, accessible and timely data on the environment is a key factor in formulating good policies. A vast range of environmental data is being collected across Europe, generating valuable information for policy makers, citizens and business. To maximise the use of this information, the shared environmental information system (SEIS) aims to interconnect existing databases and make data easily accessible to all.
Policy-makers depend on reliable and increasingly on real-time information to determine the most appropriate course of action. At the moment, European countries collect environmental data and report them to international organisations such as the European Environment Agency (EEA), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Data are delivered at intervals set by relevant legislation and commitments.
SEIS is a collaborative initiative of the European Commission, the EEA and the member countries of the Agency. It aims to
Many countries have already started connecting their local and national databases and are publishing their data online. A good example is the German environmental portal PortalU. A number of European initiatives are also contributing to the creation of SEIS. Examples are
Such national and international initiatives will be important building blocks for SEIS.
The European Commission’s Communication Towards a Shared Environmental Information System (February 2008) outlines the SEIS approach. Later in the year, the Commission will present a detailed implementation plan. This will be developed in collaboration with the EEA and the European environmental information and observation network (Eionet). The Commission also intends to update the Standardised Reporting directive to bring it in line with the SEIS principles.
The EEA is putting SEIS implementation at the centre of its upcoming 2009 – 2013 strategy.