Box 82 Six steps of indicator building

Select indicators (ideal and actual). 6. Modify, adapt, update, and iterate conclusions. Source EEA. addition, the story should describe relevant scientific knowledge, including factors such as multicausality, critical thresholds, and uncertainties. To develop ownership and increase relevance, the story must be developed with all relevant stakeholders. The design of the story involves the description of the stakeholders' views about the issue, the limits of the problem being addressed, and how...

Conclusions

Greening the GDP provides an opportunity to improve the measure of social welfare without adopting arbitrary assumptions about relative weights of various physical aspects of human well-being. This is not the only alternative economists have explored, having realized that traditional GDP misrepresents welfare. There is also a strong tendency to analyze physical accounts as more adequate for representing the quality and intensity of economic activities (Ayres 1998). The approach is best...

Acknowledgments

The research was done within several projects of the Kulturlandschaftsforschung program of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and also funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), project P-P16692. It is part of the LUCC-endorsed project Land Use Change and Socio-Economic Metabolism and serves as an input to ALTER-Net, a network of excellence funded by FP6 of the EU. We thank V. Gaube, C. Hahn, T. Hak, W. Loibl, B. Moldan, D. Moser, J. Peterseil, M. Pollheimer, N....

Notes

Population growth becomes relevant when demand for certain environmentally relevant goods or services become saturated at high levels of per capita income. 2. The term decoupling is not used when the environmental pressure variable increases at a higher rate than the economic driving force (a case of supercoupling). 3. In the literature, the terms strong and weak are sometimes used as synonyms for absolute and relative, respectively. 4. Information about the intensity of resource use can be...

Reflecting Cultural Diversity

Different cultures usually have different views on what constitutes sustainable development. Such differences can be small variations in what types of economic or political policies should be adopted to promote sustainability, or they can represent significant divergences from the underlying development paradigm. This will influence both what a society would like to measure with indicators and which reference levels are seen as desirable or sustainable. The indicator sets most in use today are...

Assessments Based on Indicators

The second approach to integrated assessment has built on the long work of statisticians and economists to assemble integrated and coherent national economic accounts. Gadrey and Jany-Catrice (2003) have reviewed in detail the recent efforts to extend this work into indicators of wealth and development. This approach starts by compiling many different statistics and indicators into a comprehensive data set. The challenge of this approach is to identify a realistic and balanced set of indicators...

New Approach Is Needed

Just as gross national product (GNP) has been overused for policy orientation, so have the traditional dimensions of development. When human beings decided to settle down as societies (i.e., to live together and use natural resources), the main conflict between the natural system and the societal system was established. How societies deal with that interaction will lead us to sustain or maintain the human species on planet Earth or to shape a different planet that cannot sustain human life...

Scientific Assessment

Edited by Tom s H k Bed ich Moldan Arthur Lyon Dahl Island Press is the only nonprofit organization in the United States whose principal purpose is the publication of books on environmental issues and natural resource management. We provide solutions-oriented information to professionals, public officials, business and community leaders, and concerned citizens who are shaping responses to environmental problems. Since 1984, Island Press has been the leading provider of timely and practical...

Adding Meaning with Reference Values Trends and Targets

Indicators often are distinguished from raw data and statistics in that they are given meaning in relation to some type of reference value.10 In the simplest case of two data points, the user interprets the trend indicated as positive or negative depending on the desired outcome. A reference value may be a baseline for which the indicator measures the distance to a meaningful state, such as a background value, standard, or norm. Or it can be a threshold value for irreversibility or instability,...

Adjusting the Level of Aggregation to Purpose

Aggregation is the combination of many components into one. One important role of aggregation is to extract information from data. The performance of an economy cannot be determined accurately from a few businesses, nor can the state of biodiversity be determined from the presence or absence of a single species. The aggregation of many components (transactions in an economy, species in an ecoregion) is needed to produce meaningful information. Another role of aggregation is to produce...

Annex 181

Sustainable development is about ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. The 15 Headline indicators of sustainable development a quality of life barometer provide an overview of progress In meeting the de v eloi'm in i objectives of the UK Sustainable Development Strategy - A better quality of life (May 1999), Headline Indicators - assessment of progress 1 Road traffic - total traffic volumes Significant change, in...

Core institutional indicators suggestions and sources continued

Percentage of sustainability-related education in schools and Germany (1999) adult education or time budget spent in grades 5 8 on environmental syndromes* Percentage of teachers taking part in training for sustainability New education per annum. Share of adult population taking part in adult education Established programs (full and part time) Share of university professors researching traditional methods New of knowledge as related to share of indigenous people in the total population Average...

Arthur Lyon Dahl

The final set of chapters in this volume presents case studies that illustrate many of the themes raised in the earlier chapters and demonstrate the present state of the art and challenges of assessing sustainability. The first three chapters provide case studies for specific geographic entities (countries or provinces), and the last three discuss specific indicator initiatives. In Chapter 18 Stephen Hall describes the pioneering work in the United Kingdom to monitor progress in their...

Approach and Method

The basic concepts are sustainability as a characteristic of dynamic systems that maintain themselves over time (not a fixed endpoint that can be defined) and environmental sustainability as a long-term maintenance of valued environmental resources in an evolving human context. The overall picture created by the index does not define sus-tainability but instead provides a gauge of a country's present environmental quality and capacity to maintain or improve conditions in the future. The ESI is...

Biodiversity Indicators in

Only a fraction of the hundreds of biodiversity indicators that have been proposed have been implemented on a regular basis (CBD 2003c Delbaere 2002b). The most commonly used indicators are species richness, number of threatened and extinct species, number of endemic species, trends in abundance of particular species, areal loss of ecosystems, and the percentage of area protected and its derivatives. Some of these indicators are insensitive, provide perverse messages, or are not an indicator of...

Biodiversity Indicators for Policy Purposes

Several partially overlapping lists of desirable attributes of biodiversity indicators for policy purposes exist (CBD 2003a, 2003c, 2003d). An integrated list of criteria would include the following Relevant to biodiversity policymaking Simple and easily understood Normative (allowing comparison with a baseline situation and a policy target) Measurable in a sufficiently accurate way at an affordable cost Responsive to changes at policy-relevant time and space scales Usable for scenarios of...

Box 141 OECD envionmental indicator selection criteria

In the first step we choose the reference scales for the individual indicators sub-indices area, population size and economic performance (GDP) to make them comparable among nations. Then, we create z-score s from all indicators' components Where z-value (Z expresses the divergence of the TMC (EF. TPES) of country x from the most probable result jj (mean of entire set of tmc or e 'or tpes) as a number of standard deviations. The larger the value of z, the less probable the experimental result...

Box 32 Satisfying measurability without neglecting communicability The Wellbeing of Nations

The indexes of the Wellbeing of Nations A Country-by-Country Index of Quality of Life and the Environment are developed along a hierarchical system of indicators, subelements, elements, dimensions, and subsystems. Two subsystems are divided into five elements of measurement each People health and population, wealth, knowledge and culture, community, and equity Ecosystem land, water, air, species and genes, and resource use For the sake of aggregation, a normalization method (i.e., the...

Box 41 Seven key questions on transport and the environment in the European Union

Is the environmental performance of the transport sector improving Are we getting better at managing transport demand and at improving the modal split Are spatial and transport planning becoming better coordinated so as to match transport demand to the needs of access Are we optimizing the use of existing transport infrastructure capacity and moving toward a better-balanced intermodal transport system Are we moving toward a fairer and more efficient pricing system, which ensures that external...

Box 83 Description of the transport problem in the EU

Growing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector jeopardize the achievement of the EU's emission reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol. Impacts on air quality, noise nuisance, and the increasing fragmentation of the EU's territory are equally worrying. Transport growth, which remains closely linked to economic growth, and the shift toward roads and aviation are the main drivers behind this development. Technology and fuel improvements are only partly effective in reducing...

Box 84 Seven key questions on transport and the environment in the EU

Is the environmental performance of the transport sector improving Are we getting better at managing transport demand and improving the modal split Are spatial and transport planning becoming better coordinated so as to match transport demand to the needs of access Are we optimizing the use of existing transport infrastructure capacity and moving toward a better-balanced intermodal transport system Are we moving toward a fairer and more efficient pricing system, which ensures that external...

Calculating QSSI

The simplest version of a sustainability indicator related to the model in the previous section is calculated by dividing the number of inconsistencies by the total number of flows, resulting in an index between 0 and 1 (in our example, 9 23 .39). A lower number implies a higher level of sustainability and vice versa. This indicator is independent of the current state of the stocks or related indicators. Similar to existing sustainability indicators, the QSSI consists of two layers of...

Challenges to Sustainability Indicators

The most difficult challenge facing policymakers is deciding the future directions of society and the economy in the face of often conflicting requirements for short-term political success, economic growth, social progress, and environmental sustainability. The wrong decisions can carry heavy consequences, increase human suffering, and even precipitate crises. Improving the basis for sound decision making, integrating many complex issues while providing simple signals that a busy decision maker...

Closing In on Democracy

The concept of participation and majority decision making expressed in the term democracy is related to equity. Although democracy may be interpreted differently in var ious intercultural contexts, there is a claim for democracy as a universal principle for institutionalizing sustainable development. This can include access to and participation in processes of generating knowledge, developing indicators, and using them to guide action. There is a risk that certain ideas become embedded as...

Closing In on Equity

Global sustainability is a concept with solid physical limits, but sharing responsibility below that level is largely about how much is fair and for whom. Equity and justice are implicit in the sustainable development concept, both temporally in inter-generational equity, respecting the development needs of future generations, and spatially in intragenerational equity, stressing poverty eradication today (Chapter 19, this volume). Most of the focus on equity and its measurement is at the lower...

Communicating to Different Audiences

The ideal indicator would be one that communicates for a specific purpose to a range of audiences. This may not be achievable, given the diversity of stakeholders. Conceiving tools for policymaking entails different approaches to indicator construction, issue selection, and depth of information provided than are needed in developing instruments to provide general information for citizens. Despite widespread acknowledgment of the problems of indicator acceptance and use, the ways in which...

Comparing Countries

Generally, peer pressure is considered a good thing among partners in any community, whether they be scientists, enterprises, or countries, if it leads to a healthy effort to strive for improvement and excellence. Comparison also helps to show what does and does not work and why. Many well-established national-level social and economic indicators and indices not only measure the development performance of a country over time but are also used to rank countries. For sustainable development...

Conclusion

We propose the QSSI as a first example of an indicator that is not based primarily on the measurement of flows. The QSSI combines methods from soft and hard system thinking. The QSSI has roots in our earlier work on the SCENE model and work in progress on the method of qualitative system analysis. By presenting the method for this indicator at an early stage, we want to stimulate the discussion on how sustainability indicators might reflect the whole instead of the parts. The question is...

Contents

List ofFigures, Tables, Boxes, and Foreword Finding the Right Indicators for Policymaking xvii Preface 1. Challenges to Sustainability Indicators 1 2. Meeting Conceptual Sylvia Karlsson, Arthur Lyon Dahl, Reinette (Oonsie) Biggs, Ben J. E. ten Brink, Edgar Gutierrez-Espeleta, Mohd Nordin Hj. Hasan, Gregor Laumann, Bedrich Moldan, Ashbindu Singh, Joachim H. Spangenberg, and David Stanners 3. Identifying Methodological Challenges 49 Tom Bauler, Ian Douglas, Peter Daniels,Volodymyr Demkine, Nina...

David Stanners Ann Dom David Gee Jock Martin Teresa Ribeiro Louise Rickard and Jean Louis Weber

To assess sustainable development (SD), new approaches are needed to deal with the issues of system complexity, uncertainty, and ignorance. The necessary information must be condensed and made accessible to a wide and diverse audience ranging from policymakers, decision makers, and citizens who are striving to apply both precaution and prevention. These new and increasingly demanding challenges put a spotlight on the manner and underlying assumptions of knowledge creation. This chapter reviews...

Desired direction

Influence matrix with weighted flows. sistency (thus a high divisor) to compensate for a weak inconsistency, resulting in a low QSSI value. With the addition of a set of standard stocks and a standard procedure to define flows for certain classes of systems (e.g., industrial sectors or regions) the QSSI could be extended in such a way that it allows comparisons between different systems. Also, with methods of general network analysis it is possible to derive more system...

Development of Health Indicators

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been involved in efforts to develop indicators over a number of years. Efforts were most intensive in the mid- to late 1990s. Although not all indicator sets developed during this period are still in use, they may be of interest to those developing health indicators for other purposes. For example, indicators (and targets) were developed to assess WHO's Health-for-All (HFA) policy (WHO 1996b). The purpose of the HFA indicators was to guide member states...

Domestic Material Consumption DMC

DMC measures the annual amount of raw materials extracted from the domestic territory (DE) plus all imports minus all exports. The definition of DMC thus corresponds to apparent consumption, not final consumption. It is important to keep this definition in mind when interpreting DMC. From the point of view of final consumption, an imported commodity is functionally equivalent to a domestically produced commodity. In DMC, though, these functional equivalents lead to great differences. Similarly,...

Ecosystem Level Area Based Indicators

Area-based indicators can be considered as abundance-based measures at the ecosystem level, corresponding to population measures at the species level. They typically express the area (km2) at a particular time of a defined ecosystem. The area may be expressed as a fraction of some reference state, such as the supposed original (potential) area. A well-known example is the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FAO 2001). Others are assessments of coral reefs (Wilkinson 2000) and mangroves (FAO...

Effect

Conceptual model for a river basin management system. in the third cell of the first row and is represented by the value 1. The reverse flow from dams to flood risk (if more dams are built, the flood risk decreases) is represented by the value 1 in the first cell of the third row. As in the notation of system dynamics, positive flows (1) reinforce the original signal, and negative flows ( 1) dampen the original signal. We will not explain the content of the conceptual model in...

Ensuring Policy Relevance

Louise Rickard, Jochen Jesinghaus, Christof Amann, Gisbert Glaser, Stephen Hall, Marion Cheatle,Alain Ayong Le Kama, Erich Lippert, Jacqueline McGlade, Kenneth Ruffing, and Edwin Zaccai How much more tidy the world would be if there were some experts who, in possession of the appropriate applied science, could tell us what to do in the cause of sustainability. Funtowicz et al. (1999) In a study of sustainable development indicators, Parris and Kates (2003) argue that indicator developers...

ESI Results

The ESI ranking provides a relative gauge of environmental sustainability in 146 countries (these countries met the criteria for inclusion in the 2005 ESI, such as country size, variable, and indicator coverage) (Table 23.2). The ESI results cannot be compared between editions there are too many refinements in the methods and improvements in variables for such comparisons at present. The higher a country's ESI score, the better positioned it is according to selected variables. However, as is...

Examples

Building on the CSD and other work, the Consultative Group on Sustainable Development Indicators (CGSDI) (iisd.org cgsdi ) has assembled a data set corresponding to the CSD indicators and developed an interesting tool, the Dashboard of Sustainability (esl.jrc.it dc index.htm), that provides an integrated presentation of such indicator sets. The CGSDI thought that integrating across economic, social, and environmental fields was conceptually difficult because there was no common denominator, but...

Extent of Applicability

When such indicators can be assembled on a time series basis, mathematical functions can be fitted to the data and used to compute other parameters useful for policy analysis. Decoupling indicators can also be formulated at the product or enterprise level, as is being attempted at present by the Global Reporting Initiative. Decoupling indicators are intended primarily to track, for a single country, temporal changes in the relationship between environmental pressures and economic driving...

Functional Indicators

Indicators of functional biodiversity are least developed. There are many theories predicting a positive relationship between compositional biodiversity and functional attributes, but the generality and form of the link remain contested. It is unclear whether the link rests on biodiversity in general or on the presence of specific functional groups, or niche complementarity (Loreau et al. 2002). The debate on the functional link between biodiversity and ecosystem net primary productivity is...

Gaps in Knowledge and Research Needs

Despite efforts over the past few decades to improve coverage, gaps in statistical data remain pervasive definitions often differ across countries (e.g., for waste management) and change over time. More work in estimating missing data points could extend the time periods and number of countries covered for some indicators. Even more important are the gaps resulting from some data not being collected at all. For example, of the thirty-one indicators considered by the OECD, for only ten of them...

Gene Level Indicators

At the subspecies level, diversity can be measured by richness counts of the number of different varieties within a species (e.g., the number of landraces of one crop) or the number of alleles present in a metapopulation. These measures should be accompanied by evenness measures of the relative dominance of the varieties. Genetic biodiversity can be estimated by measuring appropriate molecular markers. Most studies on genetic variation within species are based on random markers. Current work is...

Greening the Conventional GDP

We now turn back to the concept of GDP. Its simplest definition denotes the value of all newly produced goods and services. It was contemplated by economists for centuries, but the idea was not formalized until the 1930s. Its purpose was to quantify the global demand in an economy so that business cycles could be better controlled. It performed in this role so well that both economists and lay citizens started to accept it as an overall indicator of economic activity and welfare, despite the...

Health and Environment Indicator Frameworks

Decision makers can use an indicator framework to obtain a better picture of the links between the complexity of factors in the environment development process that might potentially influence human health. One such indicator framework is an adaptation of the pressure, state, response (PSR) framework developed by the OECD, which in turn is based on earlier work done by the Canadian government. The PSR framework has been particularly useful in representing the way in which pollution affects the...

History and Existing

Many of the variables that figure in decoupling indicators also appear in the concepts of resource efficiency, resource intensity, and resource productivity. These synthetic measures may be calculated as ratios of averages, marginal quantities, or rates of change (to yield elasticities). For example, resource efficiency and resource intensity are calculated as ratios of resource use to economic value added, and resource productivity is the inverse ratio. Decoupling is usually conceived as an...

Imports and Exports of Materials and Goods

Within the MFA framework, import and export flows are accounted for by their weight at the time the material or product crosses the border of a nation state. In the country of origin, there usually occur additional material flows for production of the traded goods that are not part of the tonnage of imports and exports, called indirect flows (Eurostat 2001a) (Figure 12.1). If a country produces a commodity for domestic consumption internally, this typically generates more material flows within...

Indicator Development

Indicator developers use frameworks to provide a common language and perspective on the issue and its solution. This facilitates indicator development, particularly when many different actors are involved. The way in which issues are framed becomes important in the interpretation and deeper analyses of the results because the frameworks are the assumptions and rationales on which the indicator is based and should be made available to those wanting to interpret the indicators. Understanding...

Indicator Users

At least ten categories of users, with very different needs, can be identified. These users can be clustered into three main groups. The first needs very simple, structured information and includes voters, the broader (nonspecialist) media, and decision makers. The second category needs an intermediate level of detail and simplicity and includes local government, policy implementers and checkers, NGOs, research funding bodies, and industry. The third category needs technical information...

Info

The Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) was introduced for the first time at the Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in 2000. The report Pilot Environmental Sustainability Index was part of an exploratory effort to measure the ability of economies to achieve environmentally sustainable development. Since then, the ESI has been further developed and published in 2001, 2002, and 2005. The latest ESI was formally released, again in Davos, in January 2005 by the Yale Center...

Institutions and Sustainability Refining the Definitions

Institutions as in this chapter comprise not only formal and informal organizations but all systems of interindividual rules structuring the activity of agents (Czada 1995). This definition of institutions as interpersonal systems of rules governing decision making and comprising organizations, institutional mechanisms, and orientations has been proven fruitful for analyzing the mechanisms fostering or hindering sustainable development (Hans-Bockler-Stiftung 2001). As derived from political...

Integrity Indicators

Ecological integrity is the capacity to maintain a balanced, adaptive community of species having species composition, diversity, and functional organization comparable to those of natural habitats in the particular region. An example of an indicator is the Index of Biotic Integrity (Karr 2002), which scores a range of aquatic community parameters against defined standards. Terrestrial versions have also been proposed (Andreasen et al. 2001). Some integrity indices are based on the levels of...

Literature Cited

For the common good Redirecting the economy toward community, the environment, and a sustainable future. Boston Beacon. DEFRA. 1999. Quality oflife counts. London DEFRA. DEFRA. 2002. Regional quality oflife counts. London DEFRA. DEFRA. 2003. Achieving a better quality oflife. London DEFRA. EEA. 2002. Paving the way for EU enlargement Indicators of transport and environment integration (TERM). Copenhagen EEA. Eurostat. 1999. Towards environmental pressure...

Metainformation on Indicators

Compendium of Sustainable Development Indicator Initiatives The International Institute for Sustainable Development created a large database of indicator initiatives. The current version, which houses information on about 600 initiatives, shows in-depth information on each initiative, including the type of initiative, the nature of public involvement, geographic scope, complete contact information, and project goals. See www.iisd.org measure compendium . Composite Indicators An Information...

Methodological Aspects

Most decoupling indicators are country specific and do not usually address the cross-border flow of environmental externalities. However, material flow accounts and the Ecological Footprint methods do address this issue explicitly and could be used to construct decoupling indicators capable of tracking such trends. Often quoted in this respect are the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with a country's imports and exports (OECD 2003). A different type of example can be found in the...

MFA Indicators and Their Relevance to Sustainability

A number of flow aggregates expressed in metric tons per year can be derived from the MFA framework for a country or a national economy (Table 12.1).1 By using different denominators, these (extensive) flow aggregates can be related to certain reference scales, resulting in a set of intensive variables that allow comparisons of socioeconomic systems of different scales in relation to relevant dimensions. The most important reference scales are population, indicating the material intensity of a...

Net Addition to Stocks NAS

NAS equals all materials added to stocks (i.e., with an expected commodity life span of more than a year) minus wastes and emissions from stocks. NAS represents the net growth rates of the material stocks of a society. NAS is highly relevant to sustainable development for the following three reasons Material stocks comprise mainly built-up infrastructure such as roads. Increasing NAS therefore indicates an increase in land sealing. All material stocks bind future material inputs because the...

Participation in the Process

Stakeholder groups often include young people, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), local authorities, scientists and technical experts, trade unions, farmers, business and industry, indigenous people, and women. These are the nine categories of key stakeholders and civil society groups listed for Agenda 21. In general, the importance of stakeholders in securing legitimacy of the process increases as the complexity of the studied issue increases, to the point where conclusions cannot be reached...

Pocedural Issues User Involvement in Formulating and eveloping Indicators

Involvement of stakeholders and users is often assumed to be a prerequisite of SD indicators. However, because we do not fully understand how to promote stakeholder involvement in a useful and efficient manner, we need critical analyses of the potentials and limits of participatory and deliberation processes. The key reasons for user involvement include the following Integrating local knowledge with technical and scientific expertise to improve understanding of societal and ecosystems aspects...

Policy Processes

SDIs are intended mostly for use in the wider political arena, whether at the local, national, or global level. Targeting the external political process wisely therefore is essential, although the indicator development process itself also has a role to play. In very generic terms policy has a life span It starts with the realization that there is a need for policy to tackle a certain issue, followed by the design and implementation of that policy. This is often followed by an evaluation,...

Proposing a System Indicator

If sustainable development is interpreted as the balanced long-term development of the three domains of sustainability, then the development of one part of the system toward a desirable state should not occur structurally at the cost of developments elsewhere in the system because this would compromise its continuity and functionality. In this section we propose the Qualitative System Sustainability Index (QSSI) as an indicator for the degree to which the system structure causes such...

QSSI Extensions

We extended the QSSI to accommodate flows of different strength by assigning a value to the flows ranging from 1 weak to 3 strong. The weights of the flows can be deduced from stakeholder participation, expert judgments, and empirical evidence. Figure 11.3 illustrates this. With weights assigned, the QSSI is calculated as the sum of the weights of the inconsistencies divided by the sum of weights of all flows. In our example, the QSSI is 18 47 .38. Solving a strong inconsistent flow has a...

Reinette Oonsie Biggs Robert JScholes Ben J E ten Brink and David VaCkar

Human actions compromise the information content of the biosphere, contained in its biological diversity, or biodiversity. The fundamental logic of biodiversity conservation is that the variety of living things matters for a range of utilitarian (human-centered) and intrinsic reasons. Variation is the raw material of evolution and the source of novel and useful biological products, forming the basis for activities such as plant and animal breeding and the development of pharmaceutical products....

RRaw Material Equivalent RME

As explained earlier, it is not trivial to define, on the national level, indicators for natural resource use and consumption that would not be distorted by differences or changes in international trade. One way of consistently dealing with imports, exports, and domestic extraction on an equal footing has been proposed by Eurostat as RME.5 RME equals the upstream requirements of used raw materials (i.e., used extraction) of the imported and exported products6 (Eurostat 2001a). A proper...

Scientific Validity of Definitions

Environmental variables in a decoupling indicator are usually expressed in physical units, and the economic variable (generally a socioeconomic driving force) is expressed either in monetary units at constant base year prices or in physical volumes. However, the notion of a driving force suggests that relevant variables may sometimes include others, such as population growth.1 Decoupling indicators are often expressed in terms of changes over time. Decoupling occurs when the growth rate of the...

Small Volume Flows with High Environmental Impact per Mass Unit

In this category, environmental problems arise from the environmental impact of specific substances with high toxicity for human health and the functioning of ecosystems. The control of these materials and substances therefore is politically important (Steurer 1998). In the discourse about environmental problems, this category was, and for decision makers still is, the predominant environmental issue. To reduce the use of hazardous substances Steurer (1998) proposes policies such as bans or...

The Conceptual Challenge

In Chapter 10 Arthur Dahl challenges the scientific community to develop sustainabil-ity indicators that measure the functional system processes that best represent its capacity to continue far into the future. According to Dahl, these indicators should reflect the whole and not just the parts. Indicators should highlight problems rather than symptoms. We agree with Dahl's perception that existing sustainability indicators do not reflect the whole Increasingly comprehensive data sets of...

The Science Policy Bridge A Framework for Evaluating Complex Scientific Evidence on Environmental Factors in Disease

In preparing a follow-up report to Late Lessons from Early Warnings The Precautionary Principle 1896-2000 (EEA 2001), the EEA has been developing a framework to assist with the practical application of the precautionary principle via common approaches to evidence evaluation at the science policy interface. It has also been developing a simple analytical model for approaching such complex, multicausal phenomena as endocrine-disrupting substances, mediated diseases, and childhood asthma (EEA...

Tomasz Zylicz

Many environmentalists and social critics see economics as a discipline that is inconsistent with what most friends of the earth would like to see. Yet I argue in this chapter that sustainability can be fruitfully addressed on the grounds of modern economic theories. The concept of a greened domestic product can be developed and contrasted with alternative measures based on noneconomic indicators. Whereas the latter may address specific issues, the former reflects the idea of a social welfare...

Toward Synthetic Indices for Sustainable Development

Indicators and indices, as aggregated figures, are an intrinsic part of the decision-making process. They belong to the stream of information we use to make decisions and plan our actions. Indicators are tools used to provide solid bases for decision making at all levels and to contribute to the self-regulating sustainability of integrated environment and development systems (United Nations 1993). Reliable environmental information therefore is needed to frame policy, set priorities, and assess...

Toward a Common Indicator Development Process

Although the frameworks and typologies described in this chapter are useful tools for building indicators, the process chosen for building indicators can also have an important influence on the relevance, effectiveness, and scientific underpinning of the indicators. Based initially on EEA's experience with developing the Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM)2 (EEA 1999b and 2001b) and its CSI, six important steps have been identified for an effective indicator-building process...

Why We Need Pressure Indicators for Biodiversity Loss

The loss of biodiversity resulting from human activities is thought to be one of the most pressing problems of global environmental change. Nevertheless, our understanding of biodiversity loss is hampered by significant knowledge gaps. At present, there is not even an agreement on how many species inhabit the earth and how fast biological diversity is being depleted (Groombridge 1992). Slowing down the rate of human-caused biodiversity loss requires indicators according to the drivers,...

Winning Acceptance

The need for indicator users, particularly decision makers in political processes, to agree to and take ownership of sustainable development indicators creates its own conceptual challenge. Politicians, corporate executives, and many other senior officials can retain their positions only if they are seen to do well. Any indicator that reflects well on their performance will be supported, but indicators that show they are doing badly will meet strong opposition or rejection. In the current state...

Limiting the Numbers

Analyzing complex systems and their properties involves reducing complexity to a degree that we can understand. Simplification is an accepted part of the scientific research process and is naturally associated with difficult choices about how much to simplify and how to do it without misrepresenting reality. The process of developing indicators entails simplifying complex and detailed information to provide communication tools for larger audiences. Specialists may be quite happy with a large...

Communication

At least two separate strands of communication can be identified how best to communicate the content or substance and how best to package and market the product. Communicating the content is linked to the indicator development process, taking the users' needs into account and consulting appropriately with relevant stakeholders. The format of the publication describing the indicators also must be suitable for the intended audience. Given the digital divide that exists both within societies and...

Approaching the North South Continuum

Countries are often compared by levels of development along a continuum from industrialized, developed countries (largely in the North) to the least developed countries (in the South). The size of this North South divide and its increase over time are repeatedly confirmed by socioeconomic indicators in reports from various intergovernmental organizations. However, the conceptual challenge is to reflect the significant diversity of industrialized and developing countries in the design and...

Identifying Methodological Challenges

Tom Bauler, Ian Douglas, Peter Daniels,Volodymyr Demkine, Nina Eisenmenger,Jasper Grosskurth, Tom s H k, Luuk Knippenberg,Jock Martin, Peter Mederly, Robert Prescott-Allen, Robert Scholes, and Jaap van Woerden The methodological challenge in deriving indicators for sustainable development lies in constructing indicators that are accurate representations of environmental or societal states or trends but are easily understood by their target audiences. Methodological challenges thus involve two...

Insights into the Use of a Global Report The Case of GEO20001

UNEP has published three reports to date in the comprehensive Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series GEO-1 in 1997, GEO-2000 in 1999, and GEO-3 in 2002 and GEO-4 will be published in 2007. The objectives of the main GEO report series are to produce a comprehensive, policy-relevant overview of the state of the global environment that incorporates global and regional perspectives and to provide an outlook for the future. Indicators are used to encapsulate and convey information on the state and...

Sets of Indicators

This list of indicators was agreed upon in Convention on Biodiversity Conference of the Parties 7 (CBD COP7) to evaluate chosen targets (UNEP 2003c). This set is used also for reporting on indicators and monitoring at national level (UNEP 2003b). European Environment Agency (EEA) Core Set of Indicators The proposed EEA set contains 354 indicators (main indicators and subindicators) 206 of these are from more developed areas (issues of climate change, air pollution, ozone depletion, and water,...

Preface Page Of Sustainable Development Project

A number of intergovernmental organizations and national governments, but also regional and local authorities, local communities, business organizations, other economic actors, academic institutions, and nongovernment organizations of many kinds, are developing and using sustainability indicators. At present, hundreds of different indicators and indices have been suggested and are used in many varied contexts, by different users, for diverse purposes. Specific indicators exist for all pillars...

Foreword Finding the Right Indicators for Policymaking

Degradation and extreme alterations to the natural environment pose some of the deepest challenges to modern society (Vitousek et al. 1997). The effects of humans on the planet can be found everywhere, from the interstices of the polar ice caps to the depths of the oceans. Although many governments and institutions have accepted that action must be taken to tackle the most urgent problems, increasing levels of consumerism and the inexorable drive to improve the living conditions of people in...

Conclusions and Recommendations

The situation just described seems to be typical in data-related matters on development. Gutierrez-Espeleta (2003) presents the state of development of social indicators and concludes, Although it is true and needs to be recognized that social indicators are lagging behind economic ones and that there lacks a conceptual framework to integrate them, it is also important to recognize that society, its organizations and windows for individual participation, are those that should define the desired...

Kenneth Ruffing

This chapter describes the conceptual basis for developing decoupling indicators, argues for their use in the policy cycle, reports on efforts to construct a large number of such indicators, primarily for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and discusses the implications of the results. Technically, the term decoupling refers to the relative growth rates of a pressure on the environment and of an economically relevant variable to which it is causally linked....

State of the Debate on Institutional Sustainability in Theory

Despite the fact that hardly any sustainable development program occurs without governance reforms, changes in legal mechanisms, and other institutional adjustments, the institutional setting has not been systematically integrated into sustainability planning. In the North, the dominant perception of sustainable development considers reconciling the environmental and the economic dimension as the key sustainability challenge (Figure 7.1). Humans and their actions, and the rules regulating them...

Luuk Knippenberg Theo Beckers Wim Haarmann Frans Hermans John Dagevos and Imre Overeem

Telos, the Brabant Centre for Sustainability Issues, was established in 1999. Its task is to develop and spread knowledge about sustainable development in the province of Brabant in the Netherlands. During the first years of its existence Telos devoted most of its time to developing a method to assess the degree of sustainable development in Brabant. For this, Telos adopted and adapted the three-capital model. Already in 1999, but certainly after the 2002 Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable...

Methodology

We call the pressures in question a geobiosphere load (GBLoad). Despite the fact that the term load might imply impact, we concentrate merely on pressures exerted on the environment by social and economic developments (e.g., resource extraction, resource transformation into products and services, and subsequent emissions). To put it clearly, the pressure from a ton of coal equals the pressure from a ton of biomass. Referring to our previous research (Moldan and Billharz 1997 Hak 2002), we focus...

Core Indicators

There has been a lot of debate about and interest in the concept of a set of core indicators that can be used on a global basis to examine overall trends in environment and health conditions worldwide. Opponents of such a concept have argued that environment and health problems and priorities for their management differ significantly in various regions of the world, as do monitoring and analytical capabilities and resource availability, making it problematic to establish a core set of...

Are Sustainable Development Indicators Still Mainstream

Most observers quote the 1972 Stockholm UN Conference on Human Environment as the starting point of the sustainable development process, which had its outstanding events with the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development and the Figure 5.7. Global picture Sustainable development by country groups. Figure 5.7. Global picture Sustainable development by country groups. 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. The indicators listed in this chapter were developed in the...

List of Figures Tables Boxes and Appendices

Six different baselines for one indicator value 35 3.1. The weight of the environment decreases as the number of human domains 3.2. Hierarchy and scales, from sustainable development to base data 52 4.1. Purposes for which GEO-2000 is used 74 5.1. Communication language of the Dashboard of Sustainability 85 5.2. Policy cycle in a media society using an SDI 86 5.3. Social pillar of sustainable development 87 5.4. Environmental pillar of sustainable development 88 5.5. Economic pillar of...

Geobiosphere Load Index

Aarhus Convention, 29 Abundance, 255-256, 263, 276 Acceptance, 7, 41, 172, 224 Achieving a Better (Quality of Life, 296, 374 Aggregate indicators, 11, 53, 282 Aggregation. See also Indices biodiversity and, 191 decoupling indicators and, 217-218 DPSEEA framework and, 242 EFA and, 227-228 ESI and, 362-364 GEO indicator set and, 346 importance of, 4, 11 Index of Environmental Friendliness and, 380 indicator types and, 53-54 integrated assessments and, 164 methodology of, 383-384 MFA and, 198-199...

Policy Integration Indicators

According to Article 6 of the EU Treaty, environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of EU policies and activities. Thus, environmental policy integration (EPI) can be defined as inserting environmental requirements into other policies during their development and implementation (EEA 1999b, 1999c, 2005 CEC 2004). EPI is distinct from conventional environmental policymaking because it involves a continual process to ensure that environmental...

Bulk Material Flows

The main sustainability problems resulting from extraction and use of bulk material flows such as sand and gravel but also biomass from grassland are loss of biodiversity, sealing of land area, disruption of ecosystems, and resource depletion caused by overexploitation of resources (Fischer-Kowalski and H ttler 1998). These problems are a result mainly of the amount of materials extracted and used, not of the composition of or substances included in these materials. Sustainability in relation...

Further Work Needed to Develop Sustainable Development Indicators

By the late 1980s and early 1990s, a new paradigm started to rise among those who recognized that important things for development had not been developed. Redevelopment was then proposed (to develop what was not developed in the past) and later evolved into what is now known as sustainable development. Sustainable development was conceived as a strategy to sustain development within certain limits, where both technology and social organization can be ordered and improved in such a manner that a...

Box 91 Gearsd A framework for environmental assessment and reporting in the context of SD

We want to provide future generations the same environmental potential as the current one (intergenerational equity). We want our economic growth to be less natural resource intensive and less polluting (decoupling). We want a better integration of sectoral and environmental policies (sector integration). We want to maintain and enhance the adaptive capacity of the environmental system (adaptability). We want to avoid irreversible and long-term environmental damage to ecosystems and human...

Bedrich Moldan Toms HkJan Kovanda Miroslav Havrnek and Petra Kuskov

Chapter 40 of Agenda 21 acknowledges that commonly used indicators such as GNP and measurement of individual source or pollution flows do not provide adequate indications of sustainability (paragraph 40.4)(UNCED 1992). The problem with attempts to monitor and evaluate progress toward sustainable development (paragraph 8.6) is not the lack of potential indicators but their multiplicity and their interdependence. Given the divergent views on indicators, the challenge after Rio was to develop a...

David Stanners Peder Bosch Ann Dom Peter Gabrielsen David Gee Jock Martin Louise Rickard and Jean Louis Weber

Over the past 10 years the European Environment Agency (EEA) has published assessments and indicators on most European environmental issues. These assessments and indicators are changing to reflect the increasingly cross-cutting nature of new environmental issues such as water management, biodiversity and ecosystem services, climate change and biofuels, health, and chemicals. Assessments are also needed to capture changes across the enlarged European Union (EU) which covers more socially,...

Toward Institutional Sustainability Indicators

Because the four dimensions and the corresponding four sets of criteria are omnipresent in human life, sustainable development can be understood as a group of specific constellations (expressed by the criteria) in all four dimensions, characterized by the fact that their synergistic interaction permits and even creates a variety of feasible pathways for continued existence and reproduction of the overall system (Bossel 1998). Thus, although industrial societies can be characterized as...

Climatepolicywatcher

In 1999 Telos started to develop a method for assessing regional sustainable development in the province of Brabant. Since then, a model has gradually been developed and applied five times, twice in Brabant and once in three other provinces. At the moment we are engaged in evaluating the outcomes of these assessments. Out of this evaluation, some preliminary conclusions have emerged. The first conclusion is that the model withstood our testing, but it has become clear that some major...

HANPP and Biodiversity

In contrast to indicators such as the ecological footprint (Haberl et al. 2004b Wackernagel et al. 2002), there is no clear-cut sustainability threshold referring to HANPP. One hundred percent HANPP clearly would be destructive because this would leave no resources for other species except those used directly by humans. It is a matter of debate how to set a meaningful lower threshold. It has been argued that human impact should be small compared with natural processes, resulting in a proposed...

HANPP and Species Richness

Until very recently, only two studies existed that used the species energy hypothesis to evaluate the possible significance of HANPP for species endangerment. The first studied estimates of species numbers on a continental scale (Wright 1987) the second studied extinctions on a global scale since the year 1600 (Wright 1990). Although the patterns found in these two studies were consistent with the species energy hypothesis, their usefulness was limited by the extremely coarse spatial...

Avoiding Data Drivenness

Many indicator projects are driven by the availability of relevant and reliable data because indicators are useful only when there are sufficient data to give meaningful Figure 2.1. Six different baselines for one indicator value (1,000 dolphins present). A current population of 1,000 dolphins means different things when compared with historical data (1,300 in 1970), viability of the population (250), threat status (750) or the natural state (10,000) (Brink 2000). Figure 2.1. Six different...