Indicators of sustainability

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 12/30/2004 - 11:46.

Ed Iannone's excellent Economic Development Futures blog (RSS fed to REALNEO) has an insightful write up and link to an excellent site featuring understanding of metrics/measures indicative of sustainability.

This web site is about indicators of sustainable community: ways to measure how well a community is meeting the needs and expectations of its present and future members. One of the primary goals of our site is to explain what indicators are, how indicators relate to sustainability, how to identify good indicators of sustainability, and how indicators can be used to measure progress toward building a sustainable community. Starting up an indicators project can be a bewildering task. From our experience in working with communities, we have found that everyone has the same set of basic questions. To help you develop and use indicators of sustainability, we have prepared clear, practical answers to these questions:

  • What is an indicator of sustainability?
  • What are the characteristics of effective sustainability indicators?
  • Is there a checklist that a community can use to evaluate sustainability indicators?
  • How can you organize indicators; how many and what kind do you need?
  • What data sources are available for indicators?
  • Can you show me examples of good sustainability indicators?
  • Are there any training materials that explain indicators and sustainability?

    Sustainable Measures provides consulting services to communities and organizations working on sustainability, but we cannot give you a quick solution. There isn't one. We also cannot do all the work for you. Sustainability cannot be developed and imposed on a community by someone outside that community. It needs to be developed and implemented by the community itself or it will not work. Outside experts can provide assistance at crucial points, or help to move the process along, but ultimately people in the community are the experts on their community. Community members need to be the driving force behind becoming a community with a sustainable quality of life for all members, now and for future generations.

    So, we cannot provide you with a complete set of ready-made indicators for your community, but we can provide some basic information that is useful in developing indicators. Here is some basic information to help you get started:

    • Free training materials,
  • A searchable database of indicators,

  • Explanations of indicators and sustainability,

  • A list of online and print resources, and

  • Answers to frequently asked questions about indicators and sustainability.
  • Sustainable Measures is committed to the development and growth of sustainable communities. We want this web site to provide a focal point for dissemination, evaluation and discussion of indicators of sustainable communities. Unlike sites whose subject is "sustainability" in general, this site focuses on how communities can use indicators of sustainability in a practical way to determine their direction and measure their progress.

    Our goal is to educate and inspire community members from diverse backgrounds, and provide them with a forum for discussion. This site is not meant to be a forum for "experts" to talk among themselves, though experts who wish to contribute are certainly welcome. Instead, this site is dedicated to volunteers: the members of a community who give their time and effort to serve on committees, support community government, and organize at a grassroots level. By providing community members with information in a clear, easy-to-use format, we hope to make this information available to a much broader spectrum of people than would otherwise be possible.

    We also encourage feedback about indicators. We welcome your comments about the site and the information it contains. admin [at] sustainablemeasures [dot] com with your comments, experiences and suggestions.

    What is an indicator of sustainability?

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