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Deniz Koca. Foto.

Deniz Koca


Deniz Koca. Foto.

A stakeholder participated system science based sustainable development indicator framework


  • Deniz Koca
  • Harald Sverdrup

Summary, in English

The growing interest in sustainable development indicators (SDI) has resulted in the development and application of various SDI frameworks in the past two decades. Identification and selection of “right” indicators with such frameworks are essential, in the sense that, it is the information from these indicators that will help policy and decision makers to better understand the efficiency, effectiveness and impacts of existing sustainable development policies, as well as to develop and apply new ones. To develop the “right” indicators with the existing SDI frameworks, however, is challenging due to following three issues: 1) The majority of indicators developed by existing SDI frameworks provide information only covering individual issues, sectors or topics from disconnected three “pillars” of sustainable development – namely; environment, economy and society. These indicators are pillar-specific and do not provide information on interlinkages between different pillars. The capital/domain-based framework, for instance, is centred on the economic and environmental pillars, where as causal frameworks (Pressure-State-Respond and its variations), are limited mostly to the environmental pillar of sustainable development. Moreover, most indicators developed by the existing SDI frameworks (except for, partly the casual frameworks) lack the explicit interlinkages and cause effect relationships between each other even if they cover the same pillar of sustainable development and are sorted out under same issue, sector or topic; 2) Cases where stakeholder participation in developing indicators with existing SDI frameworks are still limited and none of the frameworks considers a design for stakeholder participation process in its structure; and 3) The existing SDI frameworks do not consider the representation of the dynamic relationships between indicators. Indicators developed by these frameworks are static in nature and lack interactivity. They provide information about the system only considering the current situation, not changing conditions in time. That is why these indicators are intended to be measured regularly and frequently to gather the information for monitoring the performed progress in the past and also assess the current situation. To address the above three issues, a stakeholder participated systems science based SDI framework is proposed in this study. The proposed framework is, in fact, a generic group-modelling process and can incorporate all other types of existing SDI frameworks (i.e. theme based, sector based, causal base, goal base etc.).

The proposed SDI framework considers: 1) broad stakeholder participation for enabling discussions on trans/inter/cross disciplinary issues and ensuring exchange of knowledge for a better understanding of complex sustainability issues; 2) systems thinking, conceptual modelling and systems analysis for introducing causal loop diagramming methodology as a common communication tool among stakeholders. Conceptual modelling over a series of group workshops and systems analysis will help to identify interlinkages (cause effect relations and feedback loops) for a better understanding of the complex human, nature and the support/build systems; and 3) system dynamics modelling and integrated scenario analysis for developing numerical models to capture the dynamic complexity, and to test and experiment alternative potential policy options under different future scenarios. Such models allow the user to see dynamic relationships between indicators as well as to analyse the relevance and sensitivity of indicators.

Having the methodologies to deal with the above-mentioned issues in its structure, we believe, the proposed framework not only improves the identification, selection and monitoring processes of indicators, but it also serves as a stakeholder capacity enhancement tool for analysing dynamic complex sustainability issues.


  • Centrum för miljö- och klimatvetenskap (CEC)
  • Avdelningen för kemiteknik






[Host publication title missing]




International Society for the Systems Sciences


  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


  • systems science
  • systems thinking
  • systems analysis
  • system dynamics
  • conceptual modelling
  • sustainable development indicators
  • sustainable development indicator framework
  • stakeholder participation

Conference name

The 56th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences2012 (ISSS 2012): Service Systems, Natural Systems

Conference date

2012-07-15 - 2012-07-20

Conference place

San Jose, California, United States




  • ISBN: 9781627485784