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Sustainable Development Indicator Frameworks and Inititiatives

Abstract : SEAMLESS aims at designing a tool enabling to assess and compare policy options of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), in a Sustainable Development perspective. Within the project, WP2 is in charge of elaborating indicators for this purpose. Which indicators are chosen, and how they are organized, determines the scope of SEAMLESS and its definition of the agricultural system, contributing to SD in Europe. In this paper we rely on a critical literature review to analyse what the organisation of indicators for sustainable development into a framework can bring to WP2 objectives. First the framework translates the vision of SD carried by the promoter of the assessment, what is studied, how and for what purpose. So principles and issues used in the SD paradigm are presented. Then, the framework organizes indicators into a meaningful presentation. Different frameworks allow to take into account the balance between dimensions of SD, between issues, between pressure or response indicators... Different frameworks integrate a variable number of desired properties for indicators, thus ensuring such properties are accounted for. The properties which are not integrated in the framework are generally mentioned in indicative criteria lists, leaving their consideration to the individual indicator choice.We then present available major sustainable development indicator frameworks (SDIF). Their advantages and limits are discussed, distinguishing indicator lists, aggregated and composite indicators. We notably point how certain frameworks are explicitly or implicitly adapted to account for : 1) certain interfaces such as economy/environment or society/environment,... 2) weak or strong sustainability, 3) inter or intra-generational equity, 4) comparability in space and time or adaptability to local context and participative methods, 5) dependence relations involving the studied system. Approaches dealing more precisely with agro-ecosystems are then presented. From the literature reviewed here, we have notably retained that the systemic approach permits a complete and balanced SDIF.But SEAMLESS presents a number of challenges that are not dealt with, or solved in a satisfactory manner in the literature reviewed. The first challenge is dealing with different scales, and with the agricultural sector. The nature of the agricultural system and of its relation to the rest of society is specific at some scales. This could condition the link between scales, which still has to be modelled. Another point is dealing separately with different agricultural sub-sectors or policies related to CAP. This involves making SD related ex postassessments as well as ex ante comparison between competing policy options. The methodological aspects of elaborating composite indicators are also reviewed. How they could be adapted to these challenges is discussed in the final chapter, where methodological choices are made to propose an SDI framework for SEAMLESS. The proposed framework is characterised by: -at each scale (farm, region, nation, Europe), an adapted systemic framework allowing to flexibly choose indicators representing systemic properties, according to local context and specific purpose;-a scale specific definition of the agricultural system and its relations to society (total system). At farm level, the social pillar is absent, so the link with territorial scales has to be further analysed. Data accessibility problems at community level lead us to propose the integration of rural aspects inherent to this scale into the regional scale;-differentiating ex post and ex ante analysis, for various policies;-an aggregation scheme for a candidate list of sub-indicators, along with a complementary list of indicators and contextual variables to be used for post-model analysis. Thorough ex ante policy analysis in the proposed framework requires that the user be provided candidate indicators adapted to concerned policies. It is thus expected from WP1 and WP7, to provide a manageable list of policy fields and policy options useful to final users, in order to engage in elaborating appropriate lists of indicators within WP2
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Ghislain Geniaux, Stéphane Bellon, Christian Deverre, Blaise Powell. Sustainable Development Indicator Frameworks and Inititiatives. 2005. ⟨hal-02965037⟩

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