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How to aggregate sustainable development indicators: a proposed framework and its application


  • Nigel Jollands


Decision makers are constantly bombarded with indicators that can lead to indicator fatigue and information overload. Many decision makers call for a few aggregated indicators to simplify decision-making. This call has led to the development of several prominent aggregate indices such as the ecological footprint index and the living planet index. Despite this flurry of empirical index activity, the sustainable development indicator literature has been relatively quiet on the critical methodological issues associated with constructing aggregate indices. This paper attempts to address the theoretical lacuna associated with aggregate indices. By presenting an ideal process for aggregating indicators, this paper provides a framework for addressing the many methodological issues associated with index development. This paper thus attempts to add another dimension to the aggregate-indices-related literature, which has hitherto had an applied and empirical focus. In doing so, the aim is to improve the rigour with which aggregate indices are developed, and therefore, their usefulness.

Suggested Citation

  • Nigel Jollands, 2006. "How to aggregate sustainable development indicators: a proposed framework and its application," International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 5(1), pages 18-34.
  • Handle: RePEc:ids:ijarge:v:5:y:2006:i:1:p:18-34

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    Cited by:

    1. van der Heide, C.M. & Brouwer, Floor M. & Bellon, Stephane & Bockstaller, Christian & Garrod, Guy & Geniaux, Ghislain & Oliveira, Rosario & Smith, Peter & Stapleton, Lee & Weinzaepflen, Emmanuelle & Z, 2007. "Review of approaches to establish reference levels to interpret indicators," Reports 57466, SEAMLESS: System for Environmental and Agricultural Modelling, Linking European Science and Society.


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