HTML Document The DPSIR framework used by the EEA

Within the DPSIR framework used by the EEA, it is useful to focus on the links.
Release date 27/07/2007
Contributor Gabriel Agu


To structure thinking about the interplay between the environment and socio-economic activities the European Environment Agency (EEA) uses the "DPSIR" framework, a slightly extended version of the well-known "PSR" (pressure –state –response) model used by e.g. the OECD.
DPSIR stands for: Driving forces - Pressures - State - Impact – Responses. This approach can encourage and support decision-making, by pointing to clear steps in the causal chain where the chain can be broken by policy action.
The DPSIR represents a systems analysis view:- social and economic developments exert pressure on the environment and, as a consequence, the state of the environment changes. This leads to impacts on e.g. human health, ecosystems and materials that may elicit a societal response that feeds back on the driving forces, on the pressures or on the state or impacts directly, through adaptation or curative action.


Risk assessment, cost
benefits of action/inaction


Eco-efficiency of the
technology and
related systems in use

Dose response
indicators and


Risk assessment, cost
benefits of action/inaction

This model describes a dynamic situation, with attention for the various feedbacks in the system. By their nature, indicators take a snapshot picture of a constantly changing system, while the assessments that accompany the indicators can highlight the dynamic relations (Bosch and Gabrielson 2003). However there are some “in-between” indicators that express, more than other indicators, the dynamics of the interactions in the DPSIR system. These indicators focus on capturing the dynamic linkages between the DPSIR.
Bosch and Gabrielson argue that the existence of these interrelations shows that the DPSIR framework, although often presented as a linear chain or a circle, in fact resembles a very complex web of many interacting factors some of which may represent highly non-linear dynamics. In many cases the change in the state of the environment or impacts has several causes, some of which may be immediate and of local origin, others may be exerting their influence on a continental or even global scale. Reductions in pressures often result from a mixture of policy responses and changes in various driving forces.

  • Eco-efficiency indicators (between D and P). Increasing eco-efficiency means that economic activities can expand without an equivalent increase in pressure on the environment.
  • Pathways and dispersion patterns link P and S. The combination of these indicators tells a story of time delay in natural processes and the ‘time bombs’ created in the environment. Knowledge of dispersion patterns can be useful to model current and future changes in the state of the environment and in impacts.
  • Dose/response relationships link S to I. Knowledge of dose/response relationships can be used to predict or quantify the health impacts of pollution, or help in choosing the most appropriate state indicator to act as an early warning.
  • Economic costs of the impact and other indicators that confirm societal perception of the seriousness of the impacts are key for triggering societal responses. These highlight the link between I and R.
  • Policy-effectiveness indicators generally summarise the relations between the response and targets for expected change in driving forces or pressures and sometimes in responses, state or even impacts.