Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Sustainability has become a fundamental policy concept in the fields of environment, economic and social development in recent years. However, the term is one of the most intangible and difficult to define in practical terms. Whilst a growing academic literature has explored the conceptual issues with a degree of rigour, the policy development community have (to some extend independently) sought to develop practical policy responses. Frequently the first step has taken the form of an attempt to establish a baseline, and to identify threats to sustainability through the development of indicators. There is now a plethora of websites, documents, working groups and initiatives directed to this aim. Their recommendations are extremely variable and often a little confusing.
The focus of this project is upon sustainability indicators appropriate at a local scale. For the purpose of the current work "local" is roughly defined as smaller than a NUTS 3 region. The dominance of urban-based analysis at this scale is recognised, however, it has been agreed with the project founder that the selection and assessment of indicators should reflect the author's specialist knowledge of the rural development context.
As benefits a small scale-analysis, indicators will be viewed primarily as a means to monitor change through time, rather than as a means of identifying geographical differences. Whilst accepting a broad definition of sustainability, including social and economic aspects as well as environmental, the review of indicators will further be constrained by a clear, a priori conceptual framework. Indicators and indicator frameworks which are not compatible with this framework will not be described in detail.

Additional information

Authors: NO AUTHOR STATED, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 21055 EN (2004), 68 pp. Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9893 Fax: +39 033278 5409 E-mail: or Bruxelles (BE) Tel: +32 2 295 76 24 Fax: +32 2 299 63 22
Record Number: 200417614 / Last updated on: 2004-07-06
Original language: en
Available languages: en