Inderscience Publishers

A normative-functional concept of sustainability and its indicators

Often concepts of sustainability have been criticised for being theoretically ill-founded and lacking practical impact. This paper provides a new theoretical foundation of sustainable development, which is based on a coherent set of three normative and functional categories: systems integrity, justice and quality of life. From these three categories indicators for sustainability are deduced that allow to measure progress in sustainable development. Based on the set of criteria and its indicators, interdependencies between the different aspects of sustainability are analysed with the help of expert judgements and cross impact analysis. This paper concludes with sketching a deliberative approach to generate future strategies for sustainability.

Keywords: sustainability concepts, sustainability indicators, systems theory, social justice, quality of life, cross-impact analysis, deliberation, participation, sustainable development, systems integrity

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