Sustainable Development Drivers

Sustainable Development Drivers

The Role of Leadership in Government, Business and NGO Performance

Edited by Kees Zoeteman

Sustainable development cannot be prescribed – rather, it results from conscious personal choices in government, business and NGOs. This thought-provoking book explores both the origins and future of the global sustainable development movement, and provides an original overview of the driving forces of sustainable development, including market forces and past and future trends.

Chapter 4: Can Sustainable Development be Measured?

Kees Zoeteman

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, development studies, development studies, economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics


Kees Zoeteman SUMMARY Measuring progress in achieving sustainable development is complex and lacks a solid scientific foundation. As a result, many different approaches have been developed over the decades without resulting in one generally accepted set of indicators or a measuring unit to indicate the level of progress. Nevertheless, several measuring approaches for nations gained some recognition in the last decades of the twentieth century, such as the Human Development Index and the Wellbeing Index. For corporations, other indexes came into use, such as the Dow Jones Corporate Sustainability Index. One of the major flaws of such indicators is the arbitrary way of integrating economic, social and ecological data and the inability to compare scores objectively between, for example, countries or business sectors. Another approach to the issue is presented by studying the sustainability attitude of actors – be they individuals, NGOs, businesses or nations. This chapter discusses the value of such a sustainability attitude concept, and introduces a five-level scale of attitudes that will be applied in some subsequent chapters to study developments related to different societal sectors. INTRODUCTION As discussed in previous chapters, sustainable development is a broad concept referring to an integrative and inclusive approach resulting from the free will of actors and based on a consciousness of the interconnectedness of events. To study processes resulting from decisions based on the sustainable development concept, scientists need instruments that measure the intention to act in a sustainable way and that quantify the results generated by these intentions. The challenge...

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