Monitoring and Assessment

Assessment and monitoring of the environment is an essential requirement for the sustainable management of natural resource, environmental protection, food security, humanitarian programmes, social and economic development as well as dealing with issues related to climate change.

To be able to attribute the causes of climate change, analyse the potential impacts, evaluate the adaptation options and enable the characterization of extreme events such as flood, droughts and heat waves, globally consistent monitoring need to be undertaken. Such information is also an important prerequisite in the development and implementation of international agreements related to mitigation issues such as incentives in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).


FAO supports and undertakes a number of monitoring and assessment activities. For examples, FAO works actively and globally in partnership with, currently, 55 countries to improve and establish long-term and robust monitoring systems of forest, based on systematic field sampling and data collection. At international level, FAO supports countries to report to the Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA), which is the leading global reporting process on forests, their management and use. In addition FAO continues to work in close collaboration with its member countries to help them to meet their international requirements and obligations such as forest carbon reporting. At national level, FAO has been engaged in assessments of climate change impact on crop yields and food security and capacity building for climate change adaptation.

FAO also undertakes a number of land cover mapping initiatives, including the assessment and monitoring of land cover change, through a number of programmes and initiatives (e.g. the Global Land Cover Network (GLCN). FAO is also supporting the development of standards (such as the Land Cover Classification System – LCCS) which are required to ensure harmonization of data and the development of regional and global data sets. Other important monitoring activities are also undertaken for fire and water availability.

In addition, FAO hosts the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) which has the mandate to improve the quality, coverage and accessibility of terrestrial ecosystem data required to detect, quantify, understand and warn of changes in ecosystem. In particular GTOS supports the implementation of the 13 terrestrial Essential Climate Variables which have been identified as fundamental observations required by the UNFCCC to achieve its objectives.


FAO. 2008. FAO datasets on land use, land use change, agriculture and forestry and their applicability for national greenhouse gas reporting.. In A background paper for the IPCC Expert meeting on Guidance on Greenhouse Gas Inventories of Land Uses such as Agriculture and Forestry 25 March 2010 This paper aims at giving an overview of FAO’s global and regional datasets that may prove useful for compilers of national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories. It also describes some of FAO’s experience from the application of existing IPCC guidelines and gives some suggestions on how the FAO datasets can be used together with the IPCC guidelines for modeling emissions. [more]
FAO. 2008. Rapid Agricultural Disaster Assessment Routine (RADAR). 12 25 March 2010 Agricultural disaster impact analyses used for planning emergency operations are mainly based on empirical in situ analysis, and largely dependent on access to the affected area and on experts’ experience. Not only are disaster impacts difficult to model but emergency situations often prevent sufficient collection of detailed georeferenced information, which would allow the calibration of impact models. [more]
FAO. 2008. Terrestrial essential climatic variables for climate change monitoring, mitigation and adaptation 25 March 2010 The 2007 IPCC assessment unequivocally states that humans have significantly changed the composition of theatmosphere and that, as a result, our climate is changing. To be able to attribute the causes of climate change,analyse the potential impacts, evaluate the adaptation options and enable characterization of extreme events suchas floods, droughts and heat waves, globally consistent sets of observational data are needed. [more]
FAO, UN-Water. 2008. Water monitoring: Mapping existing global systems & initiatives 25 March 2010 The long-term sustainability of water is in doubt in many regions of the world. Currently, humans use about half the water that is readily available. Water use has been growing at more than twice the population rate, and a number of regions are already chronically short of water. Both water quantity and water quality are becoming dominant issues in many countries. Problems relate to poor water allocation and pricing, inefficient use, and lack of adequate integrated management. [more]

last updated:  Wednesday, December 5, 2012