Can we improve indicator design for complex sustainable development goals? A Comparison of a Values-Based and Conventional Approach

Gemma Burford, Peter Tamas, Marie Harder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Abstract: A conceptual framework was constructed for United Nations’ complex Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 4.7 focusing on education for sustainable development (ESD), and used to analyse the usefulness and character of indicators produced from a values-based approach called ESDinds, compared to a UN process. The analysis shows that the latter generated very few indicators concerning the wider aspects of knowledge such as ‘critical thinking’ or ‘learning to learn’. The values-based approach, created for a different purpose, produced complementary if not better coverage of Target 4.7, including finely-developed concepts for competencies and less tangible aspects. It is suggested that the UN process would benefit from ESDinds design elements such as intersubjective and slightly disruptive elements, purposeful contextualisation at group level, and a holistic and inductive consideration of values. The use of a reference ‘fuzzy framework’ of slightly generalised proto-indicators suited for deep contextualisation locally is recommended, rather than any rigid global-level indicator with unclear local value. It is recommended that ESD practitioners immediately develop localised interpretations of valid measures for whatever final Target 4.7 indicator is selected by the UN, as this localisation process will itself cause important learning towards local ESD achievements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
JournalSustainability
Volume8
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Keywords

  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • sustainability indicators
  • indicator design
  • values-based indicators
  • education for sustainable development
  • education for sustainability

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