Inderscience Publishers

How to aggregate sustainable development indicators: a proposed framework and its application

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Decision makers are constantly bombarded with indicators that can lead to indicator fatigue and information overload. Many decision makers call for a few aggregated indicators to simplify decision-making. This call has led to the development of several prominent aggregate indices such as the ecological footprint index and the living planet index. Despite this flurry of empirical index activity, the sustainable development indicator literature has been relatively quiet on the critical methodological issues associated with constructing aggregate indices. This paper attempts to address the theoretical lacuna associated with aggregate indices. By presenting an ideal process for aggregating indicators, this paper provides a framework for addressing the many methodological issues associated with index development. This paper thus attempts to add another dimension to the aggregate-indices-related literature, which has hitherto had an applied and empirical focus. In doing so, the aim is to improve the rigour with which aggregate indices are developed, and therefore, their usefulness.

Keywords: sustainable development indicators, aggregate indices, methodology, ecological footprint index, living planet index, performance indicators

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