The Role of Leadership in Government, Business and NGO Performance
Edited by Kees Zoeteman
Chapter 4: Can Sustainable Development be Measured?
4. Can sustainable development be measured? 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...
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