Cornel Hart
       August 2007
   Swanepoel & De Beer – Ethical & Practical Principles
   Ethical
      Human orientation

      Participation

      Empowerment

      Ownership

      release

   Practical
      Learning

      Adaptiveness

      Simplicity

   Above is underlying – question is HOW to apply above in
    practice to ensure sustainable development
   Measuring, monitoring & assessing progress to sustainable
    development has deep roots:
       Assessing progress started in late 1940’s with introduction of
        GDP/GNP – track flow of goods & services through calculation
        of national income
       1987 World Commission on Environment & Development
        (Brundtland Commission) appealed for measuring progress
        beyond economic signal by capturing fuller sense of human &
        ecological well-being
       1992 Earth Summit in Rio supported above
       2002 Brundtland Commission with communities,
        governments, NGO’s, businesses etc. are all establishing
        means to monitor performance & assess progress toward
        sustainable development
       Clear link to ‘results-based management’ & associated
       International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
        developed indicators for measurement
      General Terms
   Sustainability – persistence of necessary & desired
    characteristics of all involved as well as the ecosystem for
   Progress of sustainability – maintaining & improving both
    human & ecosystem well-being, not at expense of the other –
    interdependence between people & surrounding world
   Development – to expand/realize potentialities to gradually
    bring better state; has both qualitative & quantitative
    characteristics and is different from growth which only applies
    to quantitative increase of physical dimensions
   Sustainable Development – not a ‘fixed state of harmony’
    rather an ongoing process of evolution in which people take
    actions leading to development that meets their current needs
    without compromising ability for future generations’ needs;
    value-based – thus sustainable world depends on operating set
    of values which shifts over time & vary from communities
      Sustainable Development
1.   Commits us to considering the long-term &
     recognizing our place within the ecosystem
2.   Encourages a continuing reflection on implications of
     human activity
3.   Provides a new perspective from which to see the
4.   It’s a perspective that forces bridging of many ideas
     & disciplines (contemporary & traditional) that have
     previously remained disparate
5.   Current nature of human activity is inadequate for
     meeting current needs & is seriously undermining
     opportunities for future generations
    Bellagio Principles for Assessment serve to focus the
     above perspective – “seeing differently is first step to
     doing differently”
           Conceptual Frameworks
        NB to develop & use a clear conceptual framework for guiding
         assessment process
        It enables indicators to emerge more naturally & can be adjusted to
         the needs of given locale or set of decision-makers
        It accomplishes two NB goals:
    1.      Helps determine priorities in the choice of indicators
    2.      Triggers the identification of indicators which may be more important in
            the future
        Knowing what’s not being emphasized is as NB as knowing what is
        Serves as a check template to be revisited from time-to-time in a test
         of current priorities
        Cultivates an anticipatory capacity
        Any framework reflects some sort of conceptual model in one of five
         groups: (first two are partial system models, last three are full system
         models incl. people & environment
    1.      Models with roots in economics
    2.      Stress & stress-response models
    3.      Multiple capital models
    4.      Various forms of three-part ‘social, economic & environment’ model
    5.      Linked human-ecosystem well-being model
     Bellagio Sustainable Development
          Principles of Assessment
     Any assessment of change needs frame of reference to
      identify if change has taken place & setting context for
      judging whether change is good or bad
1.    Guiding Vision & Goals
2.    Holistic Perspective
3.    Essential Elements
4.    Adequate Scope
5.    Practical Focus
6.    Openness
7.    Effective Communication
8.    Broad Participation
9.    Ongoing Assessment
10.   Institutional Capacity
              Guiding Vision & Goals
   Should be guided by:
       Clear vision of sustainable development
       Goals that define that vision
   Assessing progress implies gathering of info about
    people & surrounding world – this approach is very
    closely linked to systems theory; core element of
    the approach is the ‘idea of the “whole” as a
   Conceptual models are used to link components to
    the ‘whole’ & identify controls and feedback loops
   Focusing on the ‘whole’ system facilitates
    development of capacity to ‘anticipate & prevent’
    rather than having retrospectively ‘react & cure’
     Holistic Perspective
   Assessment of progress toward
    sustainability should:
       Include review of the whole systems as well as
        its parts
       Consider well-being of social, ecological &
        economic sub-systems, their state as well as
        direction & rate of change , of their constituent
        parts & interaction between parts
       Consider both positive & negative
        consequences of human & ecological systems,
        in monetary & non-monetary terms
           Essential Elements
   Assessment of progress toward sustainable development should:
        Consider equity & disparity within the current population & between present
         & future generations, dealing with concerns such as:
            Resource use,

            Over-consumption & poverty

            Human rights

            Access to services

        Consider the ecological conditions on which life depends
        Consider economic development & other, non-market activities that
         contribute to human/social well-being
   Taking holistic perspective also means adopting a time horizon including
    both human & ecosystem time scales
   Time dimension demands shift in spatial perspective – undertaking
    human activities in one community can have implications for people in
    another due to:
        International trade activities rapidly shifting costs & benefits from one part of
         world to another
        International aid activities work to ameliorate conditions in one part of world
         by shifting benefits from another
        Emissions of contaminants to air have capacity for long-range transport or
         even alter nature of outer atmosphere to cause global-scale change, etc.
        Adequate Scope
   Assessment of progress toward sustainable development should:
       Adopt time horizon that spans both human & ecosystem time scales
        to ensure needs of future generations are addressed while
        responding to current short-term decision-making requirements
       Define space of study large enough to include local as well as long
        distance impacts on people & ecosystem
       Build on historic & current conditions to anticipate future conditions
        –’where we want to go, where we could go’
   To improve this assessment process the following must be
    clearly seen:
       Cause/effect linkages between human activity, generation of
        benefits to and stresses on people & ecosystem
       More effort needed to ensure degree of transparency in assessing
        conditions & the changes that are evident – learning from past
        mistakes & transmit learning forward to be enhanced
       Both strength of measurement techniques and the availability of
        data need to be made more even across the system
       More adequate analytic techniques should be applied
       More interdisciplinary approach & integrated perspective
         Practical Focus
   Assessment of progress toward sustainable development should be
    based on:
        Explicit set of categories or an organizing framework that links vision &
         goals to indicators & assessment criteria
        Limited number of key issues for analysis
        Limited number of indicators/indicator combinations to provide clear signal
         of progress
        Standardizing measurement wherever possible to permit comparisons
        Comparing indicator values to targets, reference values, ranges,
         thresholds, or directions of trends as appropriate
   Factors underlying the need for special treatment of the processes that
    are undertaken to assess progress toward sustainable development:
        Magnitude of issues being faced & the resulting need to engage a broad
         spectrum of society in identifying problems & designing & implementing
         related solutions
        Value-based nature of concepts of sustainable development & sustainability
         & the need to recognize the diverse & changing nature of values held
         across society
        Limits to our understanding of the system that requires consideration & the
         need to bring as many disciplinary perspective to bear as possible
        Importance of effectively linking needs of decision-makers
        Need to maximize learning opportunities
   Assessment of progress toward sustainable
    development should:
       Make methods & data that are used accessible
        to all
       Make explicit all judgments, assumptions &
        uncertainties in data & interpretations
   Communication is central to any assessment
       Not an easy task due to:
            Language barriers
            Cultural difference
            Perceptional difference
        Effective Communication
   Assessment of progress toward sustainable development
       Be designed to address needs of the audience & set of users
       Draw from indicators & other tools that are stimulating &
        serve to engage decision-makers
       Aim from outset for simplicity of structure & use of clear &
        plain language
   Need broader participation by decision-makers so that
    design & implementation of solutions becomes easier
   Without participation it’s impossible to reflect to diverse &
    changing nature of values across society
   By participation, responsibility & action follows
   Transparency & decision-making improves through
   It links ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ approaches to a
    perfect combination/approach
        Broad Participation
   Assessment of progress toward sustainable
    development should:
       Obtain broad representation of key crass-roots,
        professional, technical & social groups, including
        youth, women & indigenous people – to ensure
        recognition of diverse & changing values
       Ensure participation of decision-makers to
        secure firm link to adopted policies & resulting
            Ongoing Assessment
        Assessment of progress toward sustainable development should:
           Develop a capacity for repeated measurement to determine trends
           Be iterative, adaptive & responsive to change & uncertainty
            because systems are complex and change frequently
           Adjust goals, frameworks & indicators as new insights are gained
           Promote development of collective learning & feedback to decision-
        Need for continuity is two-fold:
    1.      There’s a strategic need for monitoring the success of actions
            taken over time & results-orientated management
    2.      There’s a substantive need to enhance our knowledge base
        Human society is part of a dynamic system, which is mostly ill-
         understood; assessing progress toward sustainable development
         has to deal with this
        Continual assessment reveals new insights & identifies other
         unknowns to be explained
        Institutional Capacity
   Assessment of progress toward sustainable
    development should be assured by:
       Clearly assigning responsibility & providing
        ongoing support in the decision-making process
       Providing institutional capacity for data
        collection, maintenance & documentation –
        setting up management systems, auditing,
        reporting & communication strategies
       Supporting development of local assessment
        capacity – professional development through

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