If an inventory of existing indicators were performed, many of them undoubtedly would fall into the class of first- and second-generation indicators. In other words, we have been providing specifics while failing to show national decision makers, clearly and explicitly, the relationship between the environment and societal consumption patterns. Could this be one of the reasons we have failed to move politicians to a more proactive approach to sustainable development, as pointed out by Topfer?
The example in this section illustrates how much we have accomplished in trying to show integration and main patterns in the whole, using the set of indicators proposed by the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and Caribbean to monitor compliance with the Latin American and Caribbean Initiative for Sustainable Development (ILAC).
ILAC is a political response from the Ministers of Environment of Latin America and Caribbean to the need to bring practical meaning to the processes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002.1 It is an opportunity to assess progress achieved in compliance with the commitments adopted at UNCED in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and to adopt effective actions in search of solutions for the new sustainable development challenges. In this way, ILAC defines goals for biological diversity; water resource management; vulnerability, human settlements, and sustainable cities; social issues such as health, inequity, and poverty; economic aspects including competitiveness, trade, and production and consumption patterns; and institutional aspects.
Beyond public management, this political platform recognizes the active participation of the entrepreneurial sector and civil society to promote actions that can generate sustainable productive activities and, at the same time, allow the conservation and sustainable use of environmental goods and services essential to life.
It is a priority for ILAC, as an ethical principle, to set up competitive sustainable development models built on public policies formulated to develop science and technology, financing, human resource education, institutional frameworks, environmental good and service appraisals, and indicators of sustainability suitable to social, economic, environmental, and policy conditions of each country or to the subregional needs. For this purpose, the fourteenth meeting of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and Caribbean (November 2003) approved an initial indicator matrix proposed by Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and Saint Lucia and supported by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Pan-American Health Organization, the UN Statistical Division, and the UNEP Regional Office for LAC, which acted as facilitator. This matrix contains a set of forty-three indicators to monitor thirty-eight operational proposals for twenty-five goals.
Once this matrix was approved by the ministers, a network of national focal points (see www.vulnerabilityindex.net/EVI_2005.htm) was created to discuss methodological sheets (metadata) for each selected indicator. This process is still under way. The UNEP Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean is inviting countries to produce national reports using ILAC indicators. Costa Rica was the first country to prepare such a report, followed by Mexico, to be published soon, and others to come.
Because the indicators proposed for Objective 7 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) fell short in describing LAC region monitoring needs, it has been pointed out that ILAC indicators can be used to complement them. For example, MDG indicator 28, "carbon dioxide emissions per capita," is of little use in LAC to monitor environmental sustainability because the contribution of this region to global emissions is less than 6 percent, and the per capita figure for North America is almost eight times that for LAC (www.yale.edu/esi/). Using ILAC indicators to complement those for MDGs will provide a better chance to monitor Objective 7, "ensure environmental sustainability."
Using this set of forty-eight indicators to test the proposed typology, 77 percent of them fall in the first class and the rest in the second (Table 22.1). One might argue that because there is a need to monitor specific goals, there is a justification to use first- and second-generation indicators, but it also helps identify how much work is still needed in order to provide a better integration of aspects in development. The way of trying to develop a picture of the forest by using single trees is very thorny and uncertain. Inte-grative tools are needed to provide better appraisals of the path toward a broad set of development goals.
This problem is also shared by the UNCSD set of fifty-seven indicators proposed in 2001. This set concentrates on first- and second-generation indicators. Possible explanations for this situation include the following: We still have a very fragmented way of analyzing development; the limited availability of national environmental statistics leads decision makers to pick just first- and second-generation indicators, leaning toward the social side; the mainstream way of thinking leads experts to identify or elaborate on pieces and not on the whole of development; data coverage is insufficient; up-to-date data are not available; or countries are inconsistent in the concepts and methods they use for data gathering and processing and in their presentation of the corresponding reports (Gutierrez-Espeleta 2003).
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