There are several links regarding sustainable development and the use and implementation of PRTR systems. For instance Target 16.10 of the Sustainable Development Goals, refers to the need to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.” The Protocol on PRTRs is of key relevance here. The objective of the Protocol, clearly set out in Article 1, is to enhance public access to information. The Protocol is clear that the information set out in PRTRs should be presented in a way that is meaningful to the public. Implementing the provision under the Protocol allow governments, industry and the public to track releases to air, land and water [and transfers of waste and via waste water treatment plants] over time. This in turn provides indicators to measure the reduction of pollutants, e.g. for evaluating policy measures and showing progress made in the private sector, and resulting progress towards sustainability.
In addition, the Protocol notes that PRTRs can also assist governments in tracking pollution trends, setting priorities, and monitoring compliance with international commitments, and they can benefit industry through improved environmental management.
Having regard to successful and efficient ways of implementing SDGs and in order to ensure that PRTRs are able to play their fullest role in reducing pollution, they should give full account of pollutant releases and waste transfers, covering all relevant sources for pollution. Based on the Protocol’s example and available guidance on how information should be made available, countries PRTRs that implement the Protocol’s provisions also help countries in their efforts to guide users to information from other reporting obligations, statistics , such as those relating to the economy or human health and obligations under other international treaties.
PRTR data could also be used to make assessments at a global level. In this context, it is also of importance to increase the comparability of data by making national PRTR systems more compatible internationally, with the aim to effectively analyse and compare different policy and management strategies that lead to prevent and reduce pollution. As a result, this leads to good practices being more easily shared and more relevant for others that follow similar approaches and effective strategies could be implemented faster, cheaper and at a broader scale. The Protocol through its legally binding minimum standard together with the related efforts of the OECD Working Group on PRTRs are leading examples in this regard. The provisions of the Protocol relating to the promotion of PRTR systems around the globe is relevant in this context, as will be discussed in the section relating to the international aspects of the Convention and Protocol below.