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 Development, modeling sustainable development in this way, by splitting it into three separate domains, was accepted, although not undisputed (see Prescott-Allen 2001). This will not be discussed here, although it may be useful to clarify one point. Telos uses the term capital instead of domain, pillar, or dimension. When we look more closely at the precise meaning of the term in the Telos approach, it becomes clear that the word pillar could also be used. Doing so would be consistent with the international accepted terminology; see the Plan of Implementation accepted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development at Johannesburg in 2002 (UN 2002), for example. However, the term capital is used in this chapter, if only because it matches the underlying idea of our model (i.e., that the capital is the score for the aggregate of stocks in each capital or pillar, as indicated in our sustainability triangle).
In this chapter we will first explain the method developed by Telos to assess sustainable development at a subnational and regional level in the Netherlands. We will then discuss some of the problems we encountered when applying the model. Since 2000, the method has been applied twice in the province of Brabant and also tested in three other provinces: Zeeland, Limburg, and Flevoland. The results of the application of the method are not presented here (see www.telos.nl).
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