“Indicators of Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Methodologies” represents the outcome of a work programme on indicators of sustainable development approved by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its Third Session in 1995. The successful completion of the work programme is the result of an intensive effort of collaboration between governments, international organisations, academic institutions, non-governmental organisations and individual experts aimed at developing a set of indicators for sustainable development for use at the national level. The thematic framework, guidelines, methodology sheets and indicators set out in the publication have thus benefited from this extensive network of cooperation and consensus building.
The 1992 Earth Summit recognised the important role that indicators can play in helping countries to make informed decisions concerning sustainable development. This recognition is articulated in Chapter 40 of Agenda 21 which calls on countries at the national level, as well as international, governmental and non-governmental organizations to develop and identify indicators of sustainable development that can provide a solid basis for decision- making at all levels. Moreover, Agenda 21 specifically calls for the harmonisation of efforts to develop sustainable development indicators at the national, regional and global levels, including the incorporation of a suitable set of these indicators in common, regularly updated and widely accessible reports and databases.
In response to this call, the Commission on Sustainable Development approved in 1995, the Programme of Work on Indicators of Sustainable Development and called upon the organisations of the UN system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations with the coordination of its Secretariat to implement the key elements of the work programme.
The main objective of the CSD Work Programme was to make indicators of sustainable development accessible to decision makers at the national level, by defining them, elucidating their methodologies and providing training and other capacity building activities. At the same time, it was foreseen that indicators as used in national policies could be used in the national reports to the Commission and other intergovernmental bodies.
This report has been prepared as the culmination of the CSD Work Programme on
Indicators of Sustainable Development (1995-2000). It provides a detailed description of key sustainable development themes and sub-themes and the CSD approach to the development of indicators of sustainable development for use in decision-making processes at the national level. This report also finalises the presentation of the proposed framework and the core set of indicators that will be made available to member countries to assist them in their efforts to measure progress toward sustainable development.
The lead agency is Eurostat (the Statistical Office of the European
Communities). Other organisations involved in the indicator development include International Road Transport Union (IRU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).