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While the concept of sustainability has been widely embraced, it has been only vaguely defined and is exceedingly difficult to measure. Sustainability indicators are critical to making the broad concept of sustainability operational by providing specific measures by which decision makers and the public can judge progress.
Sustainability Indicators defines the present state of the art in indicator development. It presents a comprehensive assessment of the science behind various indicators, while placing special emphasis on their use as communications tools. The contributors draw on their experience as academics and practitioners to describe the conceptual challenges to measuring something as complex as sustainability at local, regional, national, and global scales. The book also reviews existing indicators to assess how they could be better employed, considering which indicators are overused and which have been underutilized.
Sustainability Indicators will help planners and policy makers find indicators that are ready for application and relevant to their needs, and will help researchers identify the unresolved issues where progress is most urgently needed. All readers will find advice as to the most effective ways to use indicators to support decision making.
"…Sustainability Indicators brings us one step further in turning diverse scientific data into understandable and useful information that can be put to work in policy making processes and everyday life. As such, it is an authoritative reference volume for everyone involved with environmental information, sustainability issues, and the health of our planet."
Dr. Achim Steiner, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director
"This comprehensive volume is essential reading for anyone working professionally in the field of sustainability … a masterful job of surveying the current state of the field from a global scientific perspective. In addition to framing future research, the lessons here can (and should) be applied to business, local government, or any system where the measurement of sustainability is a condition of successful management."
Alan Atkisson, Executive Director, Earth Charter International
"Sustainability Indicators is necessary reading for scholars, policymakers, and activists engaged in the critical task of taking the measure of our world along the equally vital dimensions of our economy, social justice, and the environment. It provides an invaluable guide to re-setting our direction towards an uncompromised future."
Michael Gelobter, President, Redefining Progress
"Most useful for graduate students and researchers wanting to explore, develop, or use indicators of sustainability."
Journal of Environmental Quality
List of figures, Tables, Boxes and Appendixes
Chapter 1. Challenges to Sustainability Indicators
PART I. Crosscutting Issues
Chapter 2. Meeting Conceptual Challenges
Chapter 3. Identifying Methodological Challenges
Chapter 4. Ensuring Policy Relevance
PART II. General Approaches
Chapter 5. Indicators: Boring Statistics or the Key to Sustainable Development?
Chapter 6. Sustainability Indicators: An Economist's View
Chapter 7. The Institutional Dimension of Sustainable Development
PART III. Methodological Aspects
Chapter 8. Frameworks for Environmental Assessment and Indicators at the EEA
Chapter 9. Frameworks for Policy Integration Indicators, for Sustainable Development, and for Evaluating Complex Scientific Evidence
Chapter 10. Integrated Assessment and Indicators
Chapter 11. Qualitative System Sustainability Index: A New Type of Sustainability Indicator
PART IV. System and Sectoral Approaches
Chapter 12. Indicators of Natural Resource Use and Consumption
Chapter 13. Indicators to Measure Decoupling of Environmental Pressure from Economic Growth
Chapter 14. Geobiosphere Load: Proposal for an Index
Chapter 15. Sustainable Development and the Use of Health and Environment Indicators
Chapter 16. Biodiversity Indicators
Chapter 17. Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production (HANPP) as Indicator for Pressures on Biodiversity
PART V. Case studies
Chapter 18. The Development of UK Sustainable Development Indicators: Making Indicators Work
Chapter 19. Developing Tools for the Assessment of Sustainable Development in the Province of Brabant, the Netherlands
Chapter 20. Sustainability Assessment Indicators: Development of Practice in China
Chapter 21. A Core set of UNEP GEO Indicators Among Global Environmental Indices, Indicators, and Data
Chapter 22. Further Work Needed to Develop Sustainable Development Indicators
Chapter 23. Yale and Columbia Universities' Environmental Sustainability Index 2005
Annex: Menu of Selected Sustainable Development Indicators
List of Contributors
SCOPE Series List
SCOPE Executive-Committee 2005?2008