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Sustainability Indicators: Measuring the Immeasurable?

Sustainability Indicators: Measuring the Immeasurable? [Kindle Edition]

Simon Bell , Stephen Morse
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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'The book by Bell and Morse provides much insight and enlightenment to a wide audience that deals, in some way or another, with sustainability. The book challenges the current way of thinking; developing new practical approaches to sustainability that incorporates the views and values of local people is proposed as the science of the future. Academics and practitioners alike will find this book a must-have to the ever growing literature on sustainability.' Alan Brent, International Jourbnal of Sustainable Engineering

Product Description

Praise for the first edition:

'This book should be of interest to anyone interested in sustainable development, and especially sustainability indicators. Bell and Morse easily succeed in exposing the fundamental paradoxes of these concepts and, more importantly, they offer us a way forward. Readers ... will find their practical recommendations for those attempting to do sustainability analysis in the field most welcome, which is also the book's greatest strength.'
Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability

'This book makes a valuable contribution to the theory and practice of using indicators for sustainability. It introduces systems ideas and a range of tools and techniques that have the potential to broaden and deepen our understanding of a whole range of complex situations. Well worth a closer look.'
Christine Blackmore, Open University

'This is a book that explores new ways of thinking about how to measure sustainability... It offers stimulating food for thought for environmental educators and researchers.'
Environmental Education Research

'This book tells me, as an SI 'practitioner', where I have been and why, and more importantly how I should be thinking in order to effectively present to and empower the local community in the years ahead.'
David Ellis, Principal Pollution Monitoring Officer, Norwich City Council

'A practical guide to the development of sustainability indicators which offers a systemic and participative way to use them at local scale. Our preliminary results are highly positive and the approach is applicable in many contexts.'
Elisabeth Coudert, Programme Officer Prospective and Regional Development, Blue Plan

The groundbreaking first edition of Sustainability Indicators reviewed the development and value of sustainability indicators and discussed the advantage of taking a holistic and qualitative approach rather than focusing on strictly quantitative measures. In the new edition the authors bring the literature up to date and show that the basic requirement for a systemic approach is now well grounded in the evidence.

They examine the origins and development of Systemic Sustainability Analysis (SSA) as a theoretical approach to sustainability which has been developed in practice in a number of countries on an array of projects since the first edition. They look at how SSA has evolved into the practical approaches of Systemic Prospective Sustainability Analysis (SPSA) and IMAGINE, and, in particular, how a wide range of participatory methodologies have been adopted over the years. They also provide an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of projects that undertake work in the general field of sustainable development.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2435 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (4 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0081YW7DA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #570,316 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I had low expectations for this book which I bought as part of my research into planning for sustainability and sustainability assessment methodology; however it quickly surpassed those and has actually proved to be a real asset. I was expecting another thoughtless discussion of simple quantitative sustainability indicators which generally do a poor job of representing real life complexities, and instead found that not only do the authors seem to agree with my opinion on this but they have thoroughly researched the topic both theoretically and practically and thus saved me much time.

I would recommend this book for anyone who is working, researching or interested in sustainability; how to plan for it, implement it and ultimately measure the success or otherwise of the intervention. Not only are lots of practical examples given and scenarios portrayed which make it interesting and real from a research point of view, but the authors write engagingly and thus the book is easy to read.

My only criticism would be that I felt the momentum of the book did not deliver as strongly in the end as seemingly promised throughout. The examples given were in some ways still quite theoretical and I was not completely convinced that a project stakeholder, whether private or governmental, would be willing to take on the complexity of approach suggested with the reward being possibly less than they would have anticipated (concrete answers for example). Perhaps a re-read and assignment to my own research situation would improve my perception of this aspect.

Overall a well recommended text which has the somewhat rare quality, in academic terms, of being highly readable as well as solid (social/development) science.
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A good read with easy to follow examples and a logical approach to all aspects of the topic of sustainability and how to measure it in a business setting.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Measuring progress toward sustainability 30 April 2003
By Bill Godfrey - Published on
The sustainability of business and economic activity has become a major issue for global business and for government at all levels. But there is no universally accepted definition of 'sustainability' and measurement of progress toward sustainability is still more art than science. What is measured, how it is measured, what range of indicators are appropriate, how one values the present in relation to the future and how one arrives at a final judgement where ecological, social and economic indicators move in different directions, are all matters of intense debate.
This book, which is specifically identified as 'work in progress', makes a valuable contribution by teasing out the questions, alternative definitions and the underlying mental models that inform them. The authors list and discuss various approaches that have been taken to developing useful indicators.
They then develop in some detail a systemic approach to developing sustainability indicators for a project, based on the idea of Systemic Sustainability Analysis (see key points below). Essentially, the method proposed is systemic, seeks to identify and encompass multiple perspectives and is developed for a specific purpose in measuring sustainability of a specific project or situation. While it is proposed as a method that has very general application, it emphatically is not a 'general theory' of sustainability - i.e. a set of rules and measures that can be applied to all situations. It will be interesting to see the successor, which is due to be published in May 2003.
I suggest that the reader should go to Chapter 7 after reading the Foreword and before tackling the main text. It provides an excellent overview of the issues in dealing with indicators.
My only disappointment is that there is no mention of The Natural Step, the body that uses an approach that seeks (in my opinion very successfully) to provide an approach that is systemic, offers 'simplicity without reductionism', and derives four broad parameters against which to judge movement toward or away from sustainability. There is also no mention of the 'triple bottom line', varieties of which have recently achieved popularity as a surrogate for measuring sustainability. I expect that will be covered in the succeeding book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Utopian assessment of sustainability without adequate focus on environmental sustainability 9 Dec 2010
By Sam Lyman - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book contained a good history of sustainability assessment but it did not adequately focus on the the most important aspect of the current crisis - assessing the sustainability of ecosystems. I am all for increasing social justice in this world but I do not believe that this should be our primary focus in assessing sustainability. I would not recommend this book to those who desire to better understand the environmental basis of sustainability.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book 20 Jun 2012
By GN ADAMS - Published on
I'm no ecologist or environmentalist but I wanted to read a book that would allow me to think about sustainability in an objecitve way. So many I looked at are so laden with value judgements and the moral high ground that they don't help you to make sense of what is unquestionably the debate of the 21st century.

I've said its wonderful, I don't use the term lightly. Let me explain why:

1 it is wonderfully presented. You are taken on a journey which is cleverly navigated with maps and figures. Chapters flow and are expertly introduced and concluded. This all helps to make the subject matter, which is difficult, much easier to understand.

2. It is wonderfully referenced - this isn't some cranks view, it is based on the authors experience and knowledge coupled with thorough research and evidence.

3. It is humorously written...this is perhaps a strange thing to say, and I'm not claiming that it will have you belly laughing but the authors humour comes of the contains wonderful insights on some of the more ludicrous aspects of what is done or measured in the name of sustainability. The theory of unintended consequences most definitley applies to our approach to sustainability.

4. nowadays practically anything can be argued for or against on the basis of sustainability. for anyone faced with these arguments this book has a wonderful assortment of frameworks and tools that you can use for applying logic and reason.
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Technical Book 23 May 2013
By Ryan - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I didn't use most of this. I thought this was going to be a great tool for understanding sustainability concepts and practices, this is more about research.
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