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Visioning and Goal Setting

Setting SMART Objectives

Regarding objectives, various documents emphasise that SD strategies should be based on sound analyses of economic and environmental data, provide a long-term vision, and clear, achievable objectives (UNDESA, 2002; OECD, 2001). Clear objectives are a prerequisite for assessing the degree to which policies have achieved their own objectives.“Clear, achievable objectives”, however, are given meaning as follows:

One can understand that objectives should be SMART, i.e. that they should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed (Doran, 1981; Favell, 2004). These have always been cited in the strategic management and project management literature.

Specific: Objectives should describe what a strategy, policy or project wants to achieve in a focused and precise way; objectives should be well-defined;
Measurable: Objectives should be measurable so that their achievement can be assessed. This requires that they are quantified and timed;
Achievable: Objectives should be attainable with a reasonable amount of effort (in terms of work time, budget, participants involved, etc.), and achieving them should be neither too easy nor too hard (or even impossible);
Relevant/realistic: Objectives should be relevant to those who have the power and resources to realise them, and the resources necessary to achieve them should be available;
Timed/Time-bound: It must be apparent in what timespan an objective should be achieved; objectives that do not state a “deadline” or “target year” are not measurable.


Markus Hametner, Reinhard Steurer. Objectives and Indicators of Sustainable Development in Europe: A Comparative Analysis of European Coherence (December 2007). ESDN Quarterly Report, available at

 Sharing Tools and Example Application

Creating Adaptive PoliciesUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
An innovative way of presenting progress made on sustainabilityUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).
A methodology of establishing long term visions in Africa, UNDPUse SHIFT+ENTER to open the menu (new window).

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