, Volume 40, Issue 1-2, pp 5-98

TOWARD A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR ASSESSING PROGRESS TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY

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Abstract

Through the past half-century, much effort in a variety of disciplines, has been put to developing an approach to assessing change that pushes beyond an emphasis on economic signals to include a more complete treatment of human and ecosystem wellbeing. This challenge lies at the very heart of reporting on progress toward sustainability. Key to addressing this challenge is developing an effective conceptualization of the human-ecosystem relationship. The results of a review of 29 conceptual models that address the human-ecosystem relationship are presented. These results are used to develop a conceptual approach to assessing progress toward sustainability that: (1) builds on a number of common features drawn from these models; (2) is founded on a value set that insists on parallel care and respect for people and the ecosystem together; and (3) is consistent with systems ideas.