Theory, Practise and Quality Assurance
Evaluating Sustainable Development series
Edited by Anneke von Raggamby and Frieder Rubik
Chapter 2: How to Select Policy-Relevant Indicators for Sustainable Development
___________________________________________________ INTRODUCTION Over the last 20 years, sustainable development has become a wellestablished concept. There is now a sustainable option for all kinds of activities from eating organic food and drinking Fair Trade coffee to sustainable construction and do-it-yourself, from sustainable investment to sustainable energy generation. The frequent use of the word ‘sustainable’ would suggest that there is a consensus regarding the criteria each of these activities must meet in order to be called ‘sustainable’. However, closer investigation shows that this is not the case. Some associate sustainable development with income security, others with reducing environmental degradation and still others with a more socially cohesive society. Sustainable development therefore has many different faces. Sustainable Development is Ambiguous Despite the wide variation in the interpretation of sustainable development, a concern for the future runs through them all as a commonality. Will I still have a job tomorrow? Will we still have dry feet? Will people in the rest of the world have enough to eat, now and in the future? It is in the discussion of such questions regarding the continuity of our existence and the availability of resources for current and future generations that people tend to use the term ‘sustainable’. At the same time, ‘development’ is usually associated with an improvement in living conditions, although exactly what must improve is much less clear. Opinions on what the most important concerns for tomorrow are can vary, as can views on whose living conditions need to be improved. 21 Frank J. Dietz...
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