An data. A set of systematically chosen indicators

Anindicator is something that assists in understanding where you are, which wayyou are going and how far you are from where you want to be.

Imitating the samenotion with respect to environment gives us the real definition ofsustainability indicators. Through indicators, we understand where ourenvironment currently is, which way it is heading and how far our environmentis from where it is supposed to be. A good indicator warns you to a problembefore it gets too bad and helps you in recognizing what needs to be done inorder to fix the problem. Indicators of sustainability development indicatethose areas where the connections between the economy, environment and societyare weak.

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Sustainable development indicators may include texts, maps, graphicsand tabular data. A set of systematically chosen indicators can be used,allowing a better coverage of the key issues and more transparency. Byutilising the same set of indicators over time, the progress can be monitored,provided consistent coverage from one assessment period to another. Aneffective indicator should be relevant and reliable, easy to understand, costeffective and usable. For example, the ISEW (index of sustainable economics-economicindicator), it basically subtracts from the GDP corrections for harmfulconsequences of economic activity and adds to the GDP corrections forsignificant activities such as unpaid domestic labour.

  One of theuses of ISEW is that it accounts for depletion of resources by estimating thecost to replace a barrel of oil equivalent with the same amount of energy froma renewable source. Indices are also the measure of sustainability whichprovides more nuanced perspective on development than economic aggregates suchas GDP. Some of the common indices are HDI, EF, ESI, EPI and WEF. Taking HDI asan example, Human Development Index (HDI) basically combines severalindicators, with 1.0 being the highest achievable value. These indicatorsare life expectancy, education and GDP (gross domesticproduct). Specifically, it covers life expectancy at birth, literacy ofthe adult population, enrolment in primary, secondary and higher education,gross domestic product per capita.

Difference between indicators and indices isthat an index consists of multiple indicators combined into a compositeaggregated unit. The selection of indicators for use in the index involves theuse of a series of criteria to ensure that appropriate indicators are selected.  

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