Inderscience Publishers

Assessing sustainability in a spatial and social context: some conceptual and empirical challenges

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This paper addresses two related conceptual and practical challenges in assessing sustainability. The first involves the social context, specifically the criteria and procedures to be used. The second involves the spatial context, specifically the problem of assessing sustainability when there are multiple and overlapping "communities" with multiple economic and ecological scales. With respect to the first issue, we build on previous contributions in discussing how multicriteria assessment strategies and stakeholder processes might be used. We also illustrate the use of various non-monetary measures of ecological capacity and performance to supplement economic information. The second issue remains less well understood, though our analysis highlights how economic and ecological capacity and performance measures can be applied at various scales.

Keywords: environmental indicators, integrated assessment, sustainable development

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