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Sustainability indicators: the problem of integration

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Author Info

  • Stephen Morse

    (Department of Geography, University of Reading, Reading, UK)

  • Nora McNamara

    (Diocesan Development Services, POB 114, Idah, Kogi State, Nigeria)

  • Moses Acholo

    (Diocesan Development Services, POB 114, Idah, Kogi State, Nigeria)

  • Benjamin Okwoli

    (Diocesan Development Services, POB 114, Idah, Kogi State, Nigeria)

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    Abstract

    Sustainability indicators (SIs) are increasingly seen as important tools in the implementation of sustainable development. Numerous suggested SI lists and matrices exist, but a remaining problem is how these diverse SIs are to be integrated into an answer as to whether something is sustainable or not. In some studies of sustainability workers have adopted a quantitative integration approach whereby SIs are given numerical values and integrated mathematically to produce a value for sustainability. In this paper the authors discuss SI integration by drawing upon the results of a six-year research project based in a village in Nigeria. They conclude that an element of'qualitative integration' incorporating value judgements and subjectivity is inevitable with a concept such as sustainability, even if one begins with what may seem like sharp and quantitative SIs. It is argued that SIs are primarily a product of development intervention rather than a desire to understand, and as a result carry with them the desired characteristics, from the donor perspective, of efficiency and accountability. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/sd.148
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Sustainable Development.

    Volume (Year): 9 (2001)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 1-15

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:9:y:2001:i:1:p:1-15

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    Web page: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1099-1719

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    1. Hansen, J. W., 1996. "Is agricultural sustainability a useful concept?," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 117-143.
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    Cited by:
    1. Hueting, Roefie & Reijnders, Lucas, 2004. "Broad sustainability contra sustainability: the proper construction of sustainability indicators," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 50(3-4), pages 249-260, October.
    2. Gomez-Limon, Jose Antonio & Riesgo, Laura, 2008. "Alternative Approaches On Constructing A Composite Indicator To Measure Agricultural Sustainability," 107th Seminar, January 30-February 1, 2008, Sevilla, Spain, European Association of Agricultural Economists 6489, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Wallis, Anne M. & Graymore, Michelle L.M. & Richards, Anneke J., 2011. "Significance of environment in the assessment of sustainable development: The case for south west Victoria," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 70(4), pages 595-605, February.
    4. Zahir Dossa & Katrin Kaeufer, 2014. "Understanding Sustainability Innovations Through Positive Ethical Networks," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, Springer, vol. 119(4), pages 543-559, February.
    5. Gómez-Limón, José A. & Sanchez-Fernandez, Gabriela, 2010. "Empirical evaluation of agricultural sustainability using composite indicators," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 69(5), pages 1062-1075, March.

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