Using the framework

The Outcome Indicator Framework is designed to be adaptable for multiple uses. For example, to communicate environmental change or to support management of natural capital. By presenting a wide variety of data in a single location, the framework enables a holistic approach to analysis of environmental issues and decision making.

The concept of natural capital was used to develop the framework. Natural capital is defined as the ‘elements of the environment which provide valuable goods and services to people such as clean air, clean water, food and recreation’. A natural capital approach is advocated by the 25 Year Environment Plan as it accounts for all the different ways the environment benefits society and so can inform better decision making. A natural capital framework sets out the need to:

The 66 outcome indicators can be considered as either a measure of (a) the pressure on natural capital assets, (b) the extent/condition of natural capital assets or (c) the service or benefit associated with natural capital assets. This classification is not always straightforward since the condition of one natural capital asset (for example, air quality) may place a pressure on another (for example, wildlife habitat). It is important to recognise that multiple interactions occur across the indicators and categories. By classifying these indicators in this way, we can also show which direction of change in the indicator reflects an improvement to the environment (that is a downward trend for pressures and an upward trend for the condition of an asset or the provision of a benefit). This structure is flexible, and indicators can be selected as appropriate to the needs of a particular analysis. Several examples of how the indicators may be used to examine specific questions are provided in our 2019 report. Monitoring and evaluation of these indicators can inform appropriate actions with an ultimate goal of maximising a healthy environment, economy and society.