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Establishing sustainability indicators as an evolving process: experience from the island of Guernsey


  • Patrick McAlpine

    (Policy and Research Unit, Policy Council, States of Guernsey, St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands, UK)

  • Andrew Birnie

    (Policy and Research Unit, Policy Council, States of Guernsey, St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands, UK)


This paper uses the case of developing sustainability indicators on the Island of Guernsey over the last four years to show that Agenda 21's call to activate grass roots action is being realized, but in ways that are neither top down and modernist in approach, nor bottom up and post-modern as Agenda 21 advocates. Whilst best practice literature often suggests that community involvement must be engaged prior to designing sustainability indicators, this paper explores the reasons why this is not always possible. Guernsey's case is used to show how it only became possible to generate interest in the indicator process once the indicators were actually operational. It also shows that once interest was secured by a few relevant stakeholders it became possible to further evolve the indicators in a process that has slowly been attracting more and more of the island's community. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick McAlpine & Andrew Birnie, 2006. "Establishing sustainability indicators as an evolving process: experience from the island of Guernsey," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(2), pages 81-92.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:14:y:2006:i:2:p:81-92
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.301

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:6:p:1002-:d:101050 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Jari Lyytimäki & Ulla Rosenström, 2008. "Skeletons out of the closet: effectiveness of conceptual frameworks for communicating sustainable development indicators," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(5), pages 301-313.
    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, vol. 70(4), pages 595-605, February.

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