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Sustainability Indicators

Implementing sustainable development entails large shifts in defining, configuring, and prioritizing public policies. A singular requirement is to create the tools to assess the current situation, as well as the induced societal, economic, and environmental change. Sustainability indicators are in the first instance meant to meet this necessity. “Public choice” has always been a matter of monitoring, and thus valuing, societal evolution and development against criteria defined by individual or group preferences. In this sense, sustainability indicators have ancestors; that is, the System of National Accounts developed since the 1940s, the social indicators’ movement of the 1970s, and the formalization of environmental policy performance indicators since the 1980s.

Nearly as many definitions for indicators exist as for sustainability (or sustainable development). Generically, sustainability indicators provide an ...

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