Participatory approaches for the development and evaluation of sustainability indicators

Authored by: Simon Bell , Stephen Morse

Routledge Handbook of Sustainability Indicators

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138674769
eBook ISBN: 9781315561103
Adobe ISBN:


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The idea of employing an element of stakeholder participation in the identification of sustainability indicators (SIs) as well as how they can best be assessed and indeed used is well established and many examples exist in the literature since the 1990s, when the concept of Local Agenda 21 was first proposed at the Rio Earth Summit. The logic is very clear; the inclusion of those who have a ‘stake’ (interest) in achieving what the SIs are meant to help achieve (i.e. sustainable development) would greatly enhance the chances of success. However, while the logic is clear the definition of what is meant by stakeholder has been somewhat fraught. Indeed, the very term ‘stakeholder participation’ has two contestable elements; just what is a stakeholder and what is participation? In this chapter, adapted from a chapter in Resilient Participation: Saving the Human Project? published by Earthscan, London (Bell and Morse, 2012), we try to bring some clarity to the understanding of these two elements.

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