Monitoring, Assessing and Improving
While tracking progress toward the implementation of SD strategies is important, it is the tracking of progress toward SD on the ground that is the most important. Developing a set of indicators to do so is a complex process consisting of many components. First of all, the selection of outcome indicators reflects what is important and, therefore, ultimately must identify priority issues that should be monitored. As such, the development of indicators may best be integrated with a process for setting sustainable development objectives (e.g., in the leadership stage of strategic management). Once priority issues are identified, SMART indicators need to be developed, that is, indicators that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/Realistic and Time-bound. Once an indicator has been developed, the data must be collected, presented and analyzed to interpret trends.
For case studies of various countries which conducted SD monitoring, Click here.
Tracking progress toward implementation of initiatives directed at achieving SD strategy objectives is a fundamental part of managing the national SD strategy process. Process (output) monitoring is an approach that was observed in the country case study research. Countries with clear mechanisms and responsibilities for process monitoring of SD-related strategies included Mexico, Canada, Cameroon, Denmark, India, Madagascar, South Korea, Switzerland and the U.K.
The following principles serve as guidelines for the whole of the assessment process including the choice and design of indicators, their interpretation and communication of the result. They are interrelated and should be applied as a complete set. They are intended for use in starting and improving assessment activities of community groups, non-government organizations, corporations, national governments, and international institutions.
These principles deal with four aspects of assessing progress toward sustainable development. Principle 1 deals with the starting point of any assessment - establishing a vision of sustainable development and clear goals that provide a practical definition of that vision in terms that are meaningful for the decision-making unit in question. Principles 2 through 5 deal with the content of any assessment and the need to merge a sense of the overall system with a practical focus on current priority issues. Principles 6 through 8 deal with key issues of the process of assessment, while Principles 9 and 10 deal with the necessity for establishing a continuing capacity for assessment.
The principles are:
1. Guiding Vision and Goal
2. Holistic Perspective
3. Essential Elements
4 Adequate Scope
5. Practical Focus
7. Effective Communication
8. Broad Participation
9. Ongoing Assessment
10. Institutional Capacity
For details of each principle, Click here.
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) (1997). Assessing Sustainable Development: Principles in Practice, available at: http://www.iisd.org/pdf/bellagio.pdf
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) National Strategies for Sustainable Development: Challenges, Approaches and Innovations in Strategic and Co-ordinated Action, available at http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2004/measure_nat_strategies_sd.pdf