Can Subjective Indicators Make Sustainability Assessment More Community Relevant? The Important Role of the Stakeholders’ Participation and the Use of Indicators Set towards the Localization of Sustainable Development

Projekt: Dissertationsprojekt



Sustainable Development (SD) has been declared as a holistically political goal. The importance to attain such an ambitious goal on the level of local governance has been stressed since Earth Summit in 1992. Given that SD has become increasingly linked to political agendas in real-world policy, sustainability assessment is therefore the core for decision making on sustainability policy. It thereby identifies the unsustainability of the social system. Similarly, it is of significance to comprehend the effectiveness of the policy instruments such as indicators set in terms of assessing/evaluating policy implementation towards a sustainable society. Due to that the characteristic of SD reflects the complexity and the uncertainty in itself.
Having said that numerous indicators sets specifically aimed at sustainability goals have been developed and employed across the range of policy area over the last two decades. Those policy tools contain objective measures (e.g. CO2 emission in t-CO2, green energy productivity in Megawatt, etc.) for the most part. The decision making at a local level has been prone to miss the community interests due to the dominance of conventional top-down procedure in local administrations. Contrastingly, qualitative indicators measuring stakeholders’ subjective cognition, in particular citizens, (e.g. social cohesion, amenity of a city, etc.) could promote the gain of their perception to sustainability assessment related to the status quo of the community in which they live. Thus it is assumed that the use of the indicators set containing subjective indicators may result in being able to involve community interests more in the decision making process, and accordingly, to produce more community relevant policy outcomes.
For this purpose, this study analyses a system in which “sustainability” indicator set containing subjective indicators along with objective indicators are employed. A case study of a municipality in Japan is examined in order to illustrate causal relations among the indicator system, the citizens’ participation in the sustainability assessment and their relevance to the policy outcome.