As part of the main functions of the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the Environment Statistics Section undertakes methodological work in the field of environment statistics focusing on the development of frameworks, concepts and methods, and classifications.
The Framework for the Development of Environment Statistics (FDES 2013), a key output of the UNSD which was endorsed at the 44th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) in 2013, is a flexible framework that is used by many national statistical offices for developing and organizing environmental and related socio-economic information. Its supporting tools include the Basic Set of Environment Statistics, the Environment Statistics Self-Assessment Tool and the Manual on the Basic Set of Environment Statistics.
The FDES 2013 was preceded by the FDES 1984 also developed by UNSD.
The Environment Statistics Self-Assessment Tool assists countries in both developing their environment statistics programmes and collecting their own data on the environment. It allows countries to assess the state of environment statistics and the needs for their development at the national level consistent with the scope of the FDES 2013.
The Manual on the Basic Set of Environment Statistics comprises of a set of methodology sheets for the collection or compilation of all environment statistics of the Basic Set of Environment Statistics embedded in the FDES 2013.
Per the Report on the 44th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission in 2013, the establishment of an Expert Group on Environment Statistics was endorsed. This expert group has since met annually and collaborated with UNSD in developing methodological tools, hands-on guidance, and training material in support of the implementation of the FDES 2013 in countries.
The International Recommendations for Water Statistics (IRWS) help strengthen national information systems for water in support of design and evaluation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) policies. IRWS was adopted by the UNSC at its 41st session in 2010.
The Concepts and Methods of Environment Statistics: Human Settlements Statistics (1988) and Statistics of the Natural Environment (1991) describe detailed sets of statistical variables which are used within the FDES 1984.
UNSD published a Glossary of Environment Statistics in 1997 consisting of approximately 1200 environmental terms. It is a quick reference tool for terms and definitions relevant to environmental data production and use. Many of the references are widely applied to this day.