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The term quality, as applied to indicators, is elucidated. Examples for each of the different senses of quality in relation to indicators are provided. Indicators are defined and distinguished from statistical indices, by their policy-related character. Indicators are intended to mediate between reality and policy; that is to convey some critical aspect of a complex reality, for the function of guiding and testing changes that may be made to it for human purposes. Debates over indicators are often motivated by debates over policies, and perhaps serve as surrogates for them. Indicators that assist one policy agenda may frustrate another; a statement that particular indicators are "misleading" or "misused" will have an implicit policy perspective, involving a condemnation of those who apply them. Finally, the issues of quality and uncertainty of environmental information are discussed. Procedures for the communication of uncertainty and the evaluation of quality are presented, together with examples of their use in practice.

Additional information

Authors: FUNTOWICZ S O, JRC Ispra (IT);RAVETZ J R, Leeds University, Leeds (GB)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: Workshop on Indicators and Indices for Environmental Impact Assessment and Risk Analysis, Ispra (IT), May 15-16, 1990
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper EN 35531 ORA
Record Number: 199011181 / Last updated on: 1994-12-01
Original language: en
Available languages: en