Factsheet #34

Performance measurement and indicators

Instrument Type


Governance Level


Governance Mode


Water management topics addressed

Drought & water scarcity
Water abstraction for irrigation and other economic activities
Water quality issues due to nutrient pollution
Water quality issues: Other reasons

Implementation requirements

Financial capacity


Human capacity


Political buy-in


Timeframe for implementation


#34: Performance measurement and indicators


Building capacity and facilitating co-ordinated actions across different levels of government can be achieved through performance measurement. Performance indicators can reinforce linkages among policy stakeholders at different levels of government and contribute to learning and  capacity-building.


Performance measurement systems and indicators allow to quantify the efficiency and effectiveness of a system in place. It must be developed according to systems’ characteristics, based on performance goals in a collaborative process involving stakeholders and technical actors. and environmental performance should be included. It can be a basis for dialogue, discussion and acquisition of knowledge, and helps a community of actors identify common reference points.

Example: Indicators for the evaluation of the effects of Water and Nature Policies in the North Sea

In the Netherlands, the ministerial department of agreed with the department of Nature and fisheries management on a project to integrate policies on the management of the Dutch section of the North Sea. In order to have a better understanding of the North Sea ecosystem and define exactly their policy targets in quantitative terms and consequently evaluate the effect of such policies, part of the project was dedicated to the definition of various ecological indicators for biodiversity and ecological functioning. Performance and measurement indicators were selected to be relevant to both the water and nature policies and in such a way that the relationship between the indicators and the specific characteristic of the ecosystem could be clearly expressed. The whole set of indicators provided a comprehensive view on the ecosystem and was shared with the other coastal countries of the North sea under the scope of the Sea Task Force and the Oslo and Paris Commission (OSPAR).


Kabuta S. H., Laane R. W. P. M. (2003). Ecological performance indicators in the North Sea: development and application. Ocean & Coastal Management, 46(3-4), 277–297 (pp. 281, 283)

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