A basis for systemic sustainability measurement: an update

Bell, Simon and Morse, Stephen (2017). A basis for systemic sustainability measurement: an update. In: Caradonna, Jeremy L. ed. Routledge Handbook of the History of Sustainability. Abingdon: Routledge, 187 -218.


In our various writings during the first decade of the twenty-first century on sustainability indicators (SIs), our goal was to take a systemic approach to understanding sustainability measurement. We had read many books and papers on SIs, some of which date to the late 1980s, but we were not entirely satisfied with what we had found. Our reading spanned an eclectic range of SIs, including ecological concepts such as the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for fisheries, which is still in use and indeed forms part of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) released by the United Nations (UN) in the early 2016, as well as other, well-established indicators, such as the Shannon-Wiener index of biodiversity (H). We also covered SI frameworks, such as the AMOEBA framework, developed by Dutch researchers for assessing the sustainability of the North Sea, and wrote about it in a form that would appeal to non-specialists. We reviewed the development of SIs as part of the concept of sustainable cities and communities during the early to mid-1990s, of which there were many following the release of Local Agenda 21, which came out of the Rio 1992 conference. ...

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