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Sustainability indicators: the problem of integration

  • 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)

Registered author(s):

    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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    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
    Contact details of provider: 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, vol. 50(2), pages 117-143.
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