Information requirement at national level
Developing sustainable development indicators:
Indicators (and indices) abstract particulars and differences from the complex phenomena and have been used for a long time to monitor the development of such complex phenomena. The advantage and danger of indicators are that while they offer a compact package of information, there is risk of overlooking the link with complex reality in the process.
Indicators can provide guidance for decision-making in many ways. Physical
and social science knowledge and information are translated into accountable
units of information and can be used to guide policy decisions, to set goal
for sustainable development, to monitor the progress in policy goals, and to
alarm decision makers for appropriate action to prevent economic, social and
An index is a weighted sum of various components. The distinction between an indicator and an index (plural: indices) is however not always a clear-cut one. Gallopin (1997) attributes the distinction to the complexity of the function by which they are obtained, and not to a hierarchical level. Indicators may represent complicated functions of primary data.
Source: Hammond et al. (1995). Environmental indicators: A systematic approach to measuring and reporting on environmental policy performance in the context of sustainable development. Washington D.C.: WRI.
Copyright 1999- © United Nations, All rights reserved.