Methodology Overview for Indicators

UN Division for Sustainable Development Indicators of Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Methodologies, UN, 2001.

This publication represents the outcome of a work program on indicators of sustainable development approved by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its Third Session in 1995. The successful completion of the work program is the result of an intensive effort of collaboration between governments, international organizations, academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and individual experts aimed at developing a set of indicators for sustainable development for use at the national level. The thematic framework, guidelines, methodology sheets, and indicators set out in this publication have benefited from this extensive network of cooperation and consensus building.

Guinomet, I. The Relations Between Indicators of Sustainable Development. An Overview of Selected Studies. Fifth Expert Group Meeting on Indicators of Sustainable Development, New York, April 7-8, 1999.

This paper includes a brief overview of twenty-five studies concerned in sustainable development indices methodology. The study is divided into four parts: studies on linkages, studies on aggregation, studies on geographical integration, and other work on linkages and aggregation of Indicators of Sustainable Development (ISD).

Smeets, E., and R. Weterings. Environmental Indicators: Typology and Overview, EEA, 10/22/1999.

This is an introduction to the EEA typology of indicators and the driving forces, pressure, state, impact, response (DPSIR) framework used by the EEA in its reporting activities. This report should help policymakers understand the meaning of the information in indicator reports. The paper should also help define common standards for future indicator reports from the EEA and its member states.

Saisana, M., and S. Tarantola. State-of-the Art Report on Current Methodologies and Practices for Composite Indicator Development, JRC, Ispra, 2002, EUR 20408/EN (2002).

This report examines a number of methods with a view to clarifying how they relate to the development of composite indicators. Several methods are investigated, such as aggregation systems, multiple linear regression models, principal component analysis and factor analysis, Cronbach's alpha, neutralization of correlation effect, efficiency frontier, distance to targets, experts opinion (budget allocation), public opinion, and analytic hierarchy process. The report also examines twenty-four published studies on this topic in a number of fields such as environment, economy, research, technology, and health, including practices from the Directorates General of the European Commission.

Hass, J. L., F. Brunvoll, and H. H01E. Overview of Sustainable Development Indicators Used by National and International Agencies, OECD Statistic, 2002, JT00130884.

This paper presents a general overview of recent work on sustainable development indicators in OECD countries. It provides an overview of ongoing work for developing agreed-upon indicators that measure progress across the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social, and environmental). The paper then takes a more specific look at the approaches to sustainable development indicators adopted by different countries and highlights the challenges of having one set of standard international indicators across the various countries.

OECD. Aggregated Environmental Indices: Review of Aggregation Methodologies in Use, OECD Working Group on Environmental Information and Outlooks, 2001, JT00125240.

This report responds to the increasing interest in and reservations about aggregated environmental indices that are provided to the public and to high-level decision makers and was prepared as part of the OECD program on environmental indicators, steered by the Working Group on Environmental Information and Outlooks. It complements the work carried out since 1990 that resulted in the adoption, at OECD level, of a common framework for environmental indicators.

OECD. Indicators to Measure Decoupling of Environmental Pressure from Economic Growth, General Secretariat, OECD 2002, JT00126227.

This report was prepared by the OECD Secretariat in response to the request issued by the OECD Council at ministerial level (May 2001) that the OECD assist its member countries in realizing their sustainable development objectives. The council suggested that the OECD undertake the specific task of developing agreed indicators to measure progress across all three dimensions of sustainable development. This includes indicators that can measure the decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation and that might be used in conjunction with other indicators in OECD's economic, social, and environmental peer review processes.

Glauner, C., and T. Wiedmann. Comparative Analysis of Indicator Sets for Sustainable Development, VDI Technology Center, Future Technologies Division, Düsseldorf, 2000.

This report is part of the European Science and Technology Observatory (ESTO) Study on National and Regional Programs and Strategies for Sustainable Development. It is a comparative analysis of seventeen indicator sets for sustainable development. Information about the indicator sets was delivered by the partner institutions within this ESTO project, and Verein Deustcher Ingenieure Technologiezentrum (VDI-TZ) performed its own investigations on several indicator systems. The table on page 6 of the report shows the institutions that made the main investigations on the respective indicator systems.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). Report on Aggregation of Indicators for Sustainable Development, Background Paper no. 2, CSD 9TH Session, New York, 2001.

The primary objective of this study by the UNDESA is to outline and recommend possible approaches and methods currently available to derive aggregated indicators of sustainable development, based on the final themes, subthemes, and a core set of indica tors of the CSD framework. All initiatives analyzed in the report of Eurostat, "The Relationship Between Indicators of Sustainable Development," have been considered, although only those that were relevant to aggregation have been described. Other relevant initiatives have also been considered.

UNDESA. Indicators of Sustainable Development: Framework and Methodologies, Background Paper no. 3, CSD 9TH Session, New York, 2001.

This report has been prepared as the culmination of the CSD Work Program on Indicators of Sustainable Development (1995-2000). It provides a detailed description of key sustainable development themes and subthemes and the CSD approach to the development of indicators of sustainable development for use in decision-making processes at the national level.

UNDESA. Information and Institutions for Decision-Making: Report of the Secretary-General, CSD 9TH session, New York, 2001.

This report was prepared by the UNDESA Secretariat as task manager for chapters 8, 38, 39, and 40 of Agenda 21, in cooperation with the UNEP and the UNDP as task manager of chapter 37 of Agenda 21, with the contributions of other UN agencies and international organizations. The report is a brief factual overview intended to inform the CSD on key developments in the subject area.

Joint ECE/Eurostat Work Session on Methodological Issues of Environment Statistics Report of the Work Session on Methodological Issues of Environment Statistics, Ottawa, Canada, October 1-4, 2001.

Selected Papers

Working Paper no. 2: Eco-Efficiency Indicators in German Environmental Economic Accounting.

Working Paper no. 10: Eco-Efficiency Indicators as a Step to Indicators of Sustainable Development.

The papers presented at this conference and subsequent discussions highlighted the fact that sustainable development means economic and social development as well as environmental issues and that development work must involve economic, social, and environmental statisticians as well as policymakers. The importance of communicating the results and getting feedback from the audience was also emphasized.

Freudenberg, M. Composite Indicators of Country Performance: A Critical Assessment, Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry, OECD 2003, JT00153477.

This paper reviews the steps in constructing composite indicators and their inherent weaknesses. A detailed statistical example is given in a case study. The paper also offers suggestions on how to improve the transparency and use of composite indicators for analytical and policy purposes.

Jackson, L. E., J. C. Kurtz, and W. S. Fisher, eds. Evaluation Guidelines for Ecological Indicators, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Research Triangle Park, NC, 2000, EPA/620/R-99/005.

This document presents fifteen technical guidelines for evaluating the suitability of an ecological indicator for a particular monitoring program. The guidelines are organized within four evaluation phases: conceptual relevance, feasibility of implementation, response variability, and interpretation and utility.

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