A1 Journal article – refereed
The use, non-use and misuse of indicators in sustainability assessment and communication




List of Authors: Lyytimäki Jari, Tapio Petri, Varho Vilja, Söderman Tarja
Publisher: TAYLOR & FRANCIS INC
Publication year: 2013
Journal: International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology
Journal name in source: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND WORLD ECOLOGY
Journal acronym: INT J SUST DEV WORLD
Volume number: 20
Issue number: 5

Abstract
Sustainability assessments and indicators aim to produce and communicate information needed for evidence-based policymaking, strategic planning or learning. It has been assumed that in order to induce the desired effects, indicators must be relevant and reliable and they must be communicated to the right audience in the right way at the right moment. However, following the criteria for a good indicator does not guarantee that the indicator will be used, nor does it guarantee that the use will produce the desired effects. Various unintended side effects of indicator communication may emerge, particularly with sustainability issues characterised by various actors and multiple temporal, functional and spatial scales. We propose a comprehensive typology summarising different forms of sustainability indicator usage, namely use, non-use and misuse. This typology helps to identify potential positive or negative side effects of indicator usage. We discuss the implications of indicator-based communication, based on insights gathered in four research projects and a literature review. Attention given to potential unintended effects of indicator usage may be the key to increasing the effectiveness of sustainability communication.

Last updated on 2019-30-01 at 00:01