Edited by Edward A. Page and Michael Redclift
Chapter 4: Global Environmental Change and Human Security: What Do Indicators Indicate?
4. Global environmental change and human security: what do indicators indicate? Steve Lonergan, Fred Langeweg and Henk Hilderink 1 INTRODUCTION Environmental activities are closely linked to various development issues. For example, in Our Common Future The World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) emphasised the linkages between demography, population growth, social cohesion, economic development, health and environmental activities. Agenda 21 of the UN Conference on Environment and Development contains a practical list of subjects and issues relevant to sustainable development, and includes a call for the identiﬁcation of appropriate indicators and indicator frameworks. Since this time, there has been a considerable amount of research focused on identifying indicators of sustainable development and, to a lesser extent, human security. The purpose of this chapter is to review some of these indicator frameworks, and to present in detail two of these developed by the authors. The chapter concludes with recommendations for future indicator research. What is the meaning of terms such as environmental change, human security and sustainable development? Like many concepts, they are constructed according to sets of social, economic and political relations within speciﬁc historical and spatial locations. One of the purposes of identifying appropriate indicators is to impart speciﬁc meanings to otherwise ambiguous or conditional terms, such as well-being, quality of life, human security or environmental quality. Sustainable development, for example, is usually characterised as a well-balanced development in an economic, social, ecological and institutional sense, with intergenerational equity being an important component. The concept of...
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