Theory, Practise and Quality Assurance
- Evaluating Sustainable Development series
Edited by Anneke von Raggamby and Frieder Rubik
Chapter 4: A Basic Roadmap for Sustainability Assessments: The SIMPLE Methodology
4. A Basic Roadmap for Sustainability Assessments: The SIMPLE Methodology Candice Stevens ___________________________________________________ INTRODUCTION Several methodologies have been developed for conducting assessments of policies, programmes and other initiatives to determine how they comply with the basic principles of sustainable development. In order to be characterised as a sustainability assessment, these methodologies should follow the basic tenets of sustainable development as enumerated in the Brundtland Report (WCED 1987). These tenets can be paraphrased as the ‘Three Eyes’ – integrated, intensive and inclusive. First, the assessment should evaluate the economic, environmental and social impacts of a proposal or programme in an integrated fashion. Second, the assessment should be intensive in assessing short and long-term trade-offs across the three sustainability pillars. Third, the assessment should involve all of the stakeholders in open and inclusive processes. However, it is precisely these three defining characteristics that make sustainability assessments difficult to conduct. The concept of sustainable development is politically sensitive due to the reluctance of governments to have their proposals and actions assessed on the basis of their combined economic, environmental and social impacts. Current assessment approaches – for example regulatory impact assessment and environmental impact assessment – focus on single dimensions and generally do not address social issues in any depth. The relationship between economic and environmental aspects may be enumerated, for example as has been done in green growth strategies and green economy programmes, but the effects of policies on income distribution, employment levels, gender equity and other social factors are usually ignored (OECD 2008). 57 58...
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