The book is a collection of papers from a 1997 workshop. The main objective of the workshop was to integrate research results on pesticides, minerals, global warming, and landscape and nature into practical methods to identify and operationalize environmental indicators within the European Union (EU). Moreover, the editors emphasize in their introduction (preceding the individual contributions that are presented as chapters) that cross-national and long-term comparisons of environmental indicators require consistent methodologies.
Although this is certainly not the first time that the central idea of "...we need one consistent methodology to identify and operationalize indicators..." is expressed, the introduction to the book raises hope that, finally, a book is published that at least attempts to formulate such a methodology.
The book is divided into five parts: a general introduction to environmental indicators in the European Union, a discussion on biodiversity and landscape indicators, a discussion on pollution indicators, different perspectives on the relation between policy and sustainable development, and a discussion and conclusions.
The quality of the paper varies widely. Only few papers are well-written and contain clear practical illustrations. Several papers are too general to be translated into practical methods. Others are too wordy and too muddled to even finish reading them at all. In general, more accurate articles and books on qualitative and quantitative aspects concerning identification, selection, and operationalization indicators have been published.
What especially attracts attention while reading the various papers in this book is that there is no general agreement on how to identify and operationalize environmental indicators. Recalling that the editors hold out the prospect for a "consistent methodology," the discussion of the individual contributions is a disappointment. It is certainly not easy to integrate the wide variety of opinions expressed, but this book provides no new outlook at all on a consistent methodology. Moreover, the discussion refers more to external literature than reviewing contributions in the book itself.
The publisher's claim on the back of the book that "it is essential reading for agricultural and environmental economists and policy makers," therefore, is out of proportion. Although some chapters are well worth reading, "Environmental Indicators and Agricultural Policy" at best is a reasonable reference work on the current status of environmental indicators in the EU.
My advice: borrow, don't buy...