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Sustainability Indicators for International Institutions

Sustainability Indicators for International Institutions

Since the 1990s, there has been a lively debate on which indicators should best be employed to measure and assess sustainability. Varying indicators are suitable for different thematic areas. In this project, indicators for the sustainability of international institutions were assessed and further developed.

Established in 1992, the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) over several years developed a list of indicators that could be employed in order to describe and assess comprehensively the situation in specific countries of states with respect to sustainable development. This list includes social, economic, environmental and institutional aspects and its applicability and relevance was to be tested in selected countries by 1999. With reference to international treaties, the two indicators ratification and implementation were selected to be applied to six areas of environmental concern: waste, biological diversity, climate change, ozone layer, desertification and oceans. Against this background, Ecologic assessed the appropriateness of the two CSD indicators for international institutions and elaborated proposals for adapting or complementing them.

As a result, Ecologic proposed, due to the limited significance of the two indicators, that the following five indicators should be added to the examination:
1. existence of secondary regulations for administrative implementation ("programming" of national administrations);
2. compliance (e.g. with reduction targets), covering behavioural changes with regard to specific problems;
3. fulfilment of reporting requirements (extraction of important information);
4. fulfilment of financial obligations;
5. co-operation with relevant societal actors.

In applying the indicators to international organisations, some adaptations have to be made so that the following list emerges:
1. membership (instead of ratification);
2. fulfilment of reporting requirements;
3. fulfilment of financial obligations;
4. co-operation with relevant societal actors.

The German project report can be downloaded here [pdf, 178 kB, German] and was published in the series UBA-Texte.

September 1997 to October 1997
Project ID
international institutions, indicators, sustainable development, CSD, Agenda 21, international agreements, international organisations