Environmental Management

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 294–305 | Cite as

Indicators of Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities at the Interface of Science and Policy

Profile

Abstract

Rising global interest in sustainability has triggered attention in indicators as a means of achieving a more sustainable world. Although the search for indicators has led to the development of criteria for good indicators, it has also been dominated by scientific elites. The consequences of such dominance leads to significant social and policy implications, particularly with regard to how the search for sustainability has become defined primarily as a technical/scientific exploration when it is actually a moral and ethical issue. Our discussion about sustainability and appropriate indicators centers on what constitutes the public interest, a question that requires inclusiveness and centers on the interface of science and policy. The paper reviews the rationale for selecting indicators, the functions they serve, and the implications and consequences involved when one sector—science—dominates the debate. The paper concludes with suggestions about appropriate roles of science, policy and the public in the indicator selection process.

Sustainability Indicators Policy Sustainable development criteria 

Literature Cited

  1. Bossel, H. 1999. Indicators for sustainable development: Theory, method, applications. International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 124 pp.Google Scholar
  2. Brooks, H. 1992. Sustainability and technology. Pages 29–60 in Science and sustainability: Selected papers on IIASA’s 20th anniversary. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.Google Scholar
  3. Chiras, D. D., Corson, W. H. 1997Indicators of sustainability and quality of life: Translating vision into realityJournal of Environmental Science and Health1561.Google Scholar
  4. Clark, R. N., Meidinger, W. W. Miller, G. Rayner, J. Layseca, M. Fernandez, J. and Shannon. M. A. 1998. Integrating science and policy in natural resource management: lessons and opportunities from North America. Portland, Oregon, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 22 pp.Google Scholar
  5. Dale, V. H., Beyeler, S. C. 2001Challenges in the development and use of indicatorsEcological Indicators1310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Department of Primary Industries and Energy. 1998. A framework of regional (sub-national) level criteria and indicators of sustainable forest management in Australia. Canberra, ACT, Forests Division.Google Scholar
  7. Forester, J. 1989Planning in the face of powerUniversity of California PressBerkeley, California283 ppGoogle Scholar
  8. Friedmann, J. 1973Retracking AmericaAnchor Press/DoubledayGarden City, New York289 ppGoogle Scholar
  9. Gale, Richard P., What should forests sustain? eight answers. Journal of forestry. 1991; 89(5): 31Google Scholar
  10. Gale, Robert P., and Corday, Shelia M. Making sense of sustainability: Nine answers to “What Should be Sustained”. Rural sociology. 1994; 59(2): 314–332Google Scholar
  11. Gallopin, G. C. 1997

    Indicators and their use: Information for decision-making: Part One—Introduction

    Moldan, B.Billharz, S.Matravers, R. eds. SCOPE 58 Sustainability indicators: A report on the project on indicators of sustainable developmentJohn Wiley & SonsChichester, UK1327
    Google Scholar
  12. Hardi, P., and Zdan T. 1997. Assessing sustainable development: Principles in practice. International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan. p. 166.Google Scholar
  13. Jasanoff, S. 1990The fifth branch: Science advisers and policymakersHarvard University PressCambridge, Massachusetts302 ppGoogle Scholar
  14. Lele, S., Norgaard, R. 1996Sustainability and the scientist’s burdenConservation Biology10354365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Livermann, D. M., Hanson, M. E., Brown, B.J., Merideth, J. 1988Global sustainability: Toward measurementEnvironmental Management12133143Google Scholar
  16. Maclaren, V. W. 1996Urban sustainability reportingJournal of the American Planning Association62184202Google Scholar
  17. McCool, S., Stankey, G. 2001

    Representing the future: A framework for evaluating the utility of indicators in the search for sustainable forest management

    Raison, R. J.Brown, A. G.Flinn, D. W. eds. Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest ManagementCAB InternationalWallingford, UK93109
    Google Scholar
  18. Prescott-Allen, R. 1997. The barometer of sustainability: Measuring and communicating wellbeing and sustainable development. IUCN—The World Conservation Union, Gland, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  19. Rayner, J. 1996.Journal of Canadian Studies3182101Google Scholar
  20. Roe, E. 1998Taking complexity seriously: Policy analysis, triangulation and sustainable developmentKluwer AcademicBoston, Massachusetts152 ppGoogle Scholar
  21. van Bueren, E. M. L., and Blom. E. M. 1997. Hierarchal framework for the formulation of sustainable forest management standards. The Tropenbos Foundation, Wageningen, The Netherlands, 82 pp.Google Scholar
  22. Wondolleck, J. M. 1988Public lands conflict and resolution: Managing national forest disputesPlenum PressNew York, New York263 ppGoogle Scholar
  23. Williams, B.A. and Matheny, A.R. Democracy, dialouge, and environmental disputes: the contested languages of social regulation. Yale university, 1995. 256Google Scholar
  24. World Commission on Environment and Development. Our Common Future. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 1987 Google Scholar
  25. Yankelovich, D. 1991Coming to public judgment: Making democracy work in a complex worldSyracuse University PressSyracuse, New York290 ppGoogle Scholar
  26. Zachary, J. 1995. Sustainable community indicators: Guideposts for local planning. Community Environmental Council, Inc., Santa Barbara, California.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Society and Conservation College of Forestry and ConservationThe University of Montana MissoulaMontanaUSA
  2. 2.Pacific Northwest Research StationUSDA Forest ServiceOregonUSA

Personalised recommendations