Assessing the use and influence of sustainability indicators at the European periphery

Cassar, Louis F.; Conrad, Elisabeth; Bell, Simon and Morse, Stephen (2013). Assessing the use and influence of sustainability indicators at the European periphery. Ecological Indicators, 35 pp. 52–61.



Malta is a member of the European Union (EU), but faces constraints unique to its status both as a small island nation and its geographical location on the periphery of the EU. Several initiatives to develop suites of sustainability indicators (SIs) have been attempted in the Maltese Islands over the past two decades but there has been little corresponding follow-up to examine the extent to which such SIs are used by practitioners and influencepolicy. This paper presents anassessment of the use and influence of SIs in Malta by drawing upon the results of two quite different means of enquiry:(i) a more traditional approach in the social sciences using semi-structured and one-to-one interviews conducted with key stakeholders involved with SIs in Malta, and (ii) an innovative participatory approach, called Triple Task (TT) implemented within a workshop context, where stakeholders were placed in teams and asked to explore the use of SIs. Based upon the results obtained with these two methods of enquiry the paper provides insights into the problems of adoption of SIs in Malta and makes the case that rather than being seen as mutually exclusive, a combination of the two approaches provides a powerful means of triangulation to what is a complex set of issues.

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