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Sustainability Indicators: Are We Measuring What We Ought to Measure?
Global Environmental Research
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17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in September 2015 with 169 targets signaling a course towards a sustainable future. Indicators are required for monitoring the level of achievement toward the targets, and to be well received by national governments stakeholders, these indicators should fully take into account circumstances and concerns of each country. Using national sustainability indicators already in place, this study aimed at investigating what national governments have attempted to measure and how such attempts have reflected people′s notions of sustainability. A thorough review was conducted of literature on indicators established by 28 countries and international organizations, and to investigate common usage of the term ″sustainability,″ phrases containing that word were searched on Internet websites. Merging outcomes of the review and search evealed that (1) some elements of sustainable development were more regularly used for measuring sustainability than others, and that (2) non-expert people used the term ″sustainability″ in a wide variety of ways, and the usage did not reflect the meaning intended by sustainability indicators set by the government. From these results, the authors argue that sustainable development indicators at the UN level could include several new indicators that are regularly used by lay people, and also that experts need to convey messages regarding the importance of sustainability in fields that are not being considered by the community.
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