• Client: EC- DG Environment
  • Implementation period: 2011 - 2013 (Completed)
  • Geographic coverage: European Union

Nowcasting and early estimates of resource efficiency indicators

Nowcasting involves using more recent data as a proxy, trend extrapolation and other techniques to produce estimates (nowcasts) of indicators from their last official data point.

The purpose of this assignment was to map 66 resource efficiency indicators, assess their need and suitability for nowcasting and early estimates, and then carry out nowcasts and early estimates for selected material flow indicators. In addition, the study considered how the indicators relate to environmental and sustainability thresholds and target setting.

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Concepts used in Early Estimates and Nowcasting. Source: Rademaekers et al. (2013) Nowcasting of and target setting for resource efficiency indicators. Final Report.

The following key points can be drawn from the indicator analysis:

  • Over half (55%) of the indicators are currently available, with a solid basis of data and standardised methodology. A further 20% of the indicators are under development mainly by the EEA, ESTAT and other organisations such as the Joint Research Centres, Wuppertal Institute, OECD and the Water Footprint Network.
  • EEA and Eurostat are the primary data sources for the indicators providing 42% and 35% of the data respectively. Private sources and other organisations play a lesser role in data.
  • Air, mobility, land and soil and carbon have a solid indicator base for nowcasting: indicators are already developed in each of these areas. Water and waste are also developed, but to a lesser extent.
  • Less is available for efficient production, marine resources, ecological capital, environmentally harmful subsidies and improving buildings: indicators are mostly partial, under development or not yet under development.
  • Four indicators were identified as high priority with regard to being early-estimated or nowcasted. This was based on three criteria – policy relevance, value added of being EEed or NCed and cost of implementation. The indicators are:
    • Water Exploitation Index (%);
    • GHG emissions;
    • Carbon footprint;
    • CO2 emissions in the transport sector (MtCO2).


The study was started by Trinomics staff while working at Ecorys and completed at Trinomics.