1. Preface

Page Last modified 20 Apr 2016
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1. Preface

This report is part of a package of projects launched by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy for the support of the European Environment Agency (EEA). The scope of the report has been defined in a co-operation between the EEA and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (Danish EPA). The project was initiated in February 1996 and completed in December 1996.

Why have an environmental data strategy ?

The main task of the EEA is to produce and present environmental information for the use of decision makers so that they can take the requisite measures, so that they can assess the results achieved, and so that the public is properly informed about the state of the environment. Environmental data are also important to the Danish EPA that uses them as a basis for its work. To improve this data basis the EPA has set up a data strategy that defines the objectives and ways of achieving them. It focuses on areas such as:

  • organisation
  • human resources
  • data technical prerequisites (set-up of databases)
  • data contents

The Danish EPA has since 1991 been developing and implementing its environmental data strategy, called MIDAS (in Danish an acronym for environmental data strategy). The MIDAS-project was initiated because there was an awareness of the necessity of having a comprehensive, well-organised and easily accessible set of environmental data at hand for the Danish EPA in decision making processes at all levels of competence.

Part of the experience from the process of developing and implementing such a strategy can be relevant to organisations such as the EEA. Still it is important to emphasise that the aim of the project is not an adoption of the elements of the MIDAS project by the EEA, but an attempt to pass on the experience gained in the Danish EPA and thereby provide inspiration for such work in other organisations.


The main objectives of this project are: * To transfer knowledge and experience of the MIDAS project to the EEA * In brief to examine a few relevant data strategic elements from other countries / agencies * To contribute to the development of the data strategic work of the EEA and the EIONET * To supply ideas for combining and presenting key data

Scope of report.

As already mentioned the main idea of this report is to present the experience gained from developing and implementing a specific environmental data strategy; and to make some suggestions as to how this experience can be used in an EEA context.

Data strategic initiatives of other agencies are therefore only discussed as a supplement to the MIDAS strategy and to broaden the perspective.

It should also be mentioned that the questions of hardware-strategies, computer networks etc. are not relevant to this report. It is the questions of organisation, identification of data needs and the use and presentation of data that are in focus in this context.

Structure of report.

This report has three sections: Section I supplies context and background for the report. Section II describes the component elements of the MIDAS project itself, and section III discusses the perspectives of applying data strategies in organisations.

Chapter 1 and 2 make up section I. Chapter 1 is the present chapter, and chapter 2 provides the background for the development of the MIDAS strategy.

Section II starts with an answer to the question: how was the task carried out (chapter 3). This chapter also provides a short presentation of all the component elements of the strategy. The most important of these elements are then presented in detail in the following chapters: in chapter 4 the conceptual framework. In chapter 5 the thematic analyses. In chapter 6 the structuring / levels of data. In chapter 7 the idea of an environmental key data system. Finally, in chapter 8 the implementation of the MIDAS strategy is discussed.

Section III begins with a discussion of organisational parallels and differences between the EEA and the Danish EPA. Experience from the United States is reviewed and some important preconditions for implementing data strategies are summed up (chapter 9). In chapter 10 approaches to further development in both the Danish EPA and the EEA are discussed Chapter 11 sums up the conclusions and recommendations.

Chapter 12 presents an executive summary of the whole report.

Acknowledgements and sources of information.

This project was carried out by a project group consisting of Annelise Ravn and Kit Clausen of the Danish EPA.

We have received invaluable help from colleagues working with or having worked with environmental data strategies. From the EEA, especially Jef Maes and Sigfus Bjarnason have been involved in the project. Furthermore we have had discussions with a.o. Lynn Singleton of the Washington State Department of Ecology, Steven Newburg-Rinn of the US EPA / Washington DC, YanChing Zhang of the US EPA Scientific Visualization Centre and Reena Shah and Peter Bartelmus from the UN office of Statistics.

We would like to express our thanks to all the people we met in connection with the making of this report for the kind support and valuable information received.



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