1.1 - Introduction

1.2 - Scope and Coverage of this Report

1.3 - Constraints and Limitations

1.4 - Information Selection and Assessment

1.4.1 - What to report

1.4.2 - Criteria for selection

1.4.3 - How to give the information significance

1.5 - Presentation Strategy

Europe's environment is changing under the influence of human activities. This is no recent phenomenon ­ for many hundreds, and even thousands, of years humankind has deliberately changed the surrounding environment to serve both immediate and long-term needs. The extent to which this has occurred in Europe now means that our entire surroundings, even including most of what is perceived as natural, has been moulded in some way by human activities. Any 'natural balance' that might have existed at one time between the earth and Homo sapiens has long been broken, with signs of the current imbalance being evident in the state of the air, water and soil. There have been many unwanted side-effects as a result of these changes; some were predictable, others came as a surprise. This report aims to describe and explain these changes and effects, to provide a comprehensive picture of the state of Europe's environment in the early 1990s, to assist sound decision making and to help raise public awareness about environmental problems. This chapter outlines the approach taken in the report to do this and explains how the large amount of diverse information that needs to be presented has been selected and ordered.


The call and expectations for this report, described in the Foreword, and the evolving European and international situation, provide the general context for this current assessment. Further specific criteria (described below) were used to give the report focus and meaning. Two important requirements emerge from the general context:

  1. the need for an integral view of Europe, for the first time combining information from Central and Eastern Europe with that of Western Europe; and
  2. an appreciation of Europe's place and role in a global context.


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