, Volume 87, Issue 3, pp 495-502
Date: 04 Aug 2007

Policy Preceding Possibility? Examining Headline Composite Sustainability Indicators in the United Kingdom

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Environmental equality, social justice and well-being are national headline indicators for the United Kingdom (UK), and community vibrancy is a rural headline indicator. All four of these indicators were designated as headline indicators prior to any robust definition or methodology for their measurement was articulated. Prior to the establishment of social justice and environmental equality as headline indicators, research commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs indicated that, at least in the foreseeable future, it would not be possible to operationalise these concepts as indicators of sustainable development. Research into well-being and community vibrancy also illustrated significant problems with their measurement, but in terms of these two indicators that research was carried out after their establishment as headline indicators. These findings illustrate problems with dialogue between the government and relevant experts: difficult to measure concepts have been erroneously designated as headline indicators for the UK.