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The policy–relevance of sustainability indicators reports: case study of the neutrality strategy of the CTSIP report

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This paper examines the policy–relevance of sustainability indicators reports (SR), through the lens of a particular SR, Central Texas Sustainable Indicators Project report (CTSIP). It especially focuses on SR authors' strategy to make their report policy–relevant when policy makers are not their only targeted audiences. Theoretical and empirical results have been used, among them personal data collected from interviews with 25 Central Texans. Two opposite kinds of strategy emerged and are confronted here, that we call the neutrality strategy (CTSIP's actual strategy) and the advocacy strategy. While the neutrality strategy strives for credibility and legitimacy by remaining policy–neutral and independent of political entities, the advocacy strategy tries to influence the current political sphere by advocating for specific policies or goals and cooperating with policy makers. These two strategies have implications we will try to clarify, among them trade–offs SR authors are confronted to. This discussion results in suggestions for improving CTSIP's policy–relevance, and the trade–offs they involve.

Keywords: sustainable development, sustainability indicators, indicators report, for public decisions, decision making tools, policy relevance, neutrality strategy, advocacy strategy, policy neutrality, policymakers, politics, trade–offs

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