Collaboration on water and waste questionnaires by international agencies

UNSD conducted its first data collection in 1999 through the UNSD/UNEP Questionnaire on Environment Statistics and currently requests data from about 173 countries and areas. According to the agreement between the OECD, Eurostat and UNSD, the countries and areas covered by the joint OECD/Eurostat Questionnaire on the State of the Environment are not included in the data collection carried out by UNSD. Both data collection processes are well coordinated, and the questionnaires are fully compatible using identical concepts, definitions and classifications.

More information is available on the UNSD data collection on environment statistics and on the data collection calendar.

Following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UNSD/UNEP Questionnaire on Environment Statistics and the joint OECD/Eurostat Questionnaire on the State of the Environment have received increased attention from key stakeholder international agencies in light of the relationship to the relevant SDG indicators. This increased attention reveals the robustness of these questionnaires and their applicability to data compilation relevant to the water and waste related SDG indicators.

More recently increased collaboration has been undertaken by UNSD through the IWG-ENV, since in April 2018, FAO initiated a global data collection process through its Water and Agriculture Questionnaire 2018 to populate its AQUASTAT database and support the calculation of two water-related SDG indicators for which it is the custodian agency. This new data collection has some overlap with regular data collection carried out by the OECD together with Eurostat and UNSD/UNEP. There are some differences in terminology (e.g. abstraction vs. withdrawal, environmental flow requirements) that are being discussed and clarified among these four institutions.

The four institutions have held over ten teleconferences since August 2018 where agenda items have included cross-comparisons of individual countries' data sets, comparison of metadata and terminology used in questionnaires, sharing of focal points, and even consultation with selected countries by multiple agencies to clarify any discrepancies in data a country may be providing to different questionnaires. Following discussion about this topic at the sixth meeting of the Expert Group on Environment Statistics in New York in May 2019, the four international agencies agree to continue to closely collaborate to mitigate respondent burden to countries, and all the while to work toward the possibility of there being one data collection for water statistics conducted at the international level.

For information on the Intersecretariat Working Group on Environment Statistics (IWG-ENV) please click here.