The UNECE Working Group on Environmental Monitoring and Assessment (WGEMA) was originally established by the Committee on Environmental Policy in 2000 as the Ad Hoc Working Group on Environmental Monitoring. The body serves all the UNECE member States as a platform to exchange good practice and information, develop action plans and strengthen initiatives on environmental monitoring and related areas. The Working Group was mandated in 2007 to assist countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia and interested countries of South-Eastern Europe (the target countries) to make monitoring and assessment an effective instrument for environmental policymaking and to improve international environmental reporting. Later, in 2011, the Working Group was mandated to support efforts of the target countries in establishing a Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS).
Between 2007 and 2014 the Working Group focused on delivery of assistance to target countries. The work carried out by the Working Group in 2015 and 2016 centred on the preparation of a first progress report on the establishment of SEIS in support of regular reporting in the pan-European region and the European regional assessment of the Sixth Global Environmental Outlook, together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), for the consideration of ministers at the Eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Batumi, Georgia.
Also, during its eighteenth session, the Working Group considered the implications of the Batumi Ministerial Declaration as part of a process to develop a long-term vision for the Working Group leading up to 2030, including a road map with more specific guiding objectives for 2021.
In 2017, during the twenty-second session of the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy, the Committee approved a renewed mandate and terms of reference for WGEMA. The renewed mandate and terms of reference are valid for a five-year period, covering 2016 to 2021.
The Working Group is composed of members from all of the UNECE member States and represents national institutions dealing with environmental monitoring and environmental knowledge and assessments.