Tracing the sustainable development of nations with integrated indicators

B.C.J. Zoeteman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Managing sustainable development as a policy issue is a complex task. The European Union Sustainable Development Strategy (CEC 2001) has stimulated EU member states to develop national sustainable development strategies. However policy makers are mostly lacking reliable and practical tools to measure progress and to indicate where adaptation to new or unbalanced developments is needed. In this chapter a new approach to develop an integrated sustainability index for nations is proposed and illustrated.

Since the UN World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) published its report ‘Our Common Future’, sustainable development has been accepted widely by governments, businesses and civil society as a common goal. Sustainable develop ment was defi ned in this report, I paraphrase, as our obligation to increase and not reduce overall devel opment possibilities for the next generations. We should leave our Earth behind in a better shape than we found her at the moment we were born, not only for moral reasons, but also to promote future pros perity. Many attempts have been made to defi ne the concept of sustainable development in a way that makes it possible to link operational targets to it. (Biesiot 1997; Bossel 1997; Daly and Cobb 1990; Hueting and Bosch 1990; Meadows 1998; Wackernagel and Rees 1996). As yet no defi nition obtained general support and I have not the pretense to provide the ultimat e solution to the operational ization of sustainability. But the proposals presented here may serve as a contribution from the viewpoint of a former policy-maker.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPrinciples of Environmental Sciences
EditorsJ.J. Boersema, L. Reijnders
Place of PublicationHeidelberg
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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