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Selecting measures

Selection criteria

Every measure endorsed by the Essential Environmental Measures program is required to meet the following criteria:

Criterion 1: Relevant

The measure is relevant to national environmental information needs.

A measure is considered relevant if:

  • The measure is widely used or recommended for tracking change in the state of the environment. For example, it is included in one or more national State of the Environment (SoE) reports, one or more state SoE reports and one or more high profile national or international policy, monitoring or reporting frameworks, and/or
  • The measure is, or will be, of significant value to a range of users in addressing one or more of the following:

        -  management of ecosystem health/services

        -  biodiversity conservation

        -  climate change mitigation and adaptation

        -  food and water security

        -  human health issues

        -  maintaining cultural and heritage values

        -  urban development

Criterion 2: Credible

The measure is acceptable to the scientific and broader community.

A measure is considered credible if:

  • There is a compelling scientific rationale for why the measure is essential for tracking change in the state of the environment.
  • Stakeholder views have been considered through a public consultation process. 

Criterion 3: Measurable

The measure can be collected or derived in an ongoing basis in a way that is scientifically robust, technically feasible and not cost-prohibitive at a national scale.

A measure is considered measurable if:

  • Methods for measurement currently exist or are being developed and could be implemented in the next five years. These methods are scientifically robust, technically feasible and not cost-prohibitive.

Criterion 4: Enduring

The measure is relevant to significant long-term environmental information needs and will remain relevant in the face of methodological developments.

A measure is considered enduring if:

  • The measure is defined independently of observation method, and
  • The measure is relevant to significant long-term information needs.

Additional criteria for specific environmental themes, such as heritage and the built environment, may be considered for inclusion as the program progresses.

Selection Process

The selection of essential environmental measures begins with the formation of expert working groups who are responsible for identifying candidate measures in particular theme areas (e.g. the marine environment). The working groups refine candidate measures through a public consultation process before making a submission to the Expert Panel on Essential Environmental Measures. The Expert Panel carefully reviews each submission, endorsing measures that meet the selection criteria.


Selecting essential environmental measures is a three-step process: (1) Identify candidate measures, (2) Refine candidate measures through public consultation, and (3) submit candidate measures to Expert Panel for endorsement.
Figure 1: The selection process

After measures are endorsed, additional working groups are formed to identify data improvement opportunities and implement projects to make existing measure-related data more findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR).

Although measures are subject to a review cycle to ensure they continue to meet the selection criteria, measures are intended to endure and are not changed without the formal approval of the Expert Panel. This process provides stability for long-term investment in monitoring and data improvement.


Top image: Hardenbergia. Photo by Fran Daniels.