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Article

Can We Improve Indicator Design for Complex Sustainable Development Goals? A Comparison of a Values-Based and Conventional Approach

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Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
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Values and Sustainability Research Group, University of Brighton, Brighton BN2 4GJ, UK
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Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen 6700 HB, The Netherlands
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Department of Environmental Science & Engineering, Fudan Tyndall Centre, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 861; https://doi.org/10.3390/su8090861
Received: 18 April 2016 / Revised: 9 August 2016 / Accepted: 22 August 2016 / Published: 30 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Education and Approaches)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: Sustainable Development Goals; sustainability indicators; indicator design; values-based indicators; education for sustainable development; education for sustainability Sustainable Development Goals; sustainability indicators; indicator design; values-based indicators; education for sustainable development; education for sustainability
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MDPI and ACS Style

Burford, G.; Tamás, P.; Harder, M.K. Can We Improve Indicator Design for Complex Sustainable Development Goals? A Comparison of a Values-Based and Conventional Approach. Sustainability 2016, 8, 861. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8090861

AMA Style

Burford G, Tamás P, Harder MK. Can We Improve Indicator Design for Complex Sustainable Development Goals? A Comparison of a Values-Based and Conventional Approach. Sustainability. 2016; 8(9):861. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8090861

Chicago/Turabian Style

Burford, Gemma, Peter Tamás, and Marie K. Harder 2016. "Can We Improve Indicator Design for Complex Sustainable Development Goals? A Comparison of a Values-Based and Conventional Approach" Sustainability 8, no. 9: 861. https://doi.org/10.3390/su8090861

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