There are now numerous sustainable development evaluation methods to evaluate sustainable development progress. Which one to use will depend on the resources, the goals and the stakeholders. Ideally the method selected and its indicators would themselves indicate how to achieve sustainable development. Such a choice can be difficult without a framework to help ensure the representation of the essential elements of sustainable development.
This paper presents such a framework by drawing on ecological terminology to define aspects of sustainable development as manifested in the natural world. Examples of how these can be measured are provided along with an explanation of how the components of the framework contribute to achieving sustainable development in social systems.