Inderscience Publishers

The development of indicators and core indicators for sustainable development: a state of the art review

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Experience with the establishment of indicators for sustainable development shows that it is scientifically feasible, most useful for communication with the public and a necessary navigation instrument to establish measures pertaining to the sustainability process objective. Usually, long lists of indicators were established to describe the complexity of sustainable development. More recently, these rather technical lists have been reduced to sets of core indicators. This paper compares the shortlists for the USA, the UK and Sweden, and shows that six indicators (GDP, greenhouse gas emissions, crime rate, employment, education level and life expectancy) are used by each of them. In spite of limitations related to the way the indicators are measured and the phasing out of specific national priorities, these commonly used measures might provide a backbone for other countries to develop their core indicator lists. This strategy is probably the most feasible as long as we have no widely accepted aggregated indicators.

Keywords: criteria, indicators, sustainable development, models, policy frameworks behind indicators, selection of core indicators, shortlists of indicators, USA, UK, Sweden

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