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On occasion of its third session, in April 1995, the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) approved a work programme on indicators of sustainable development. The work programme included a list of approximately 130 indicators organized in the Driving Force - State - Response Framework. In this framework, Driving Force indicators represent human activities, processes and patterns that impact on sustainable development, State indicators indicate the "state" of sustainable development, and response indicators indicate policy options and other responses to changes in the state of sustainable development.

The indicators are intended for use at the national level by countries in their decision-making processes. Not all of the indicators will be applicable in every situation. It is understood that countries will choose to use from among the indicators those relevant to national priorities, goals and targets.

Following the decision of the CSD and the adoption of an implementation plan by experts from various organizations involved in the follow-up, the process of developing methodology sheets for each of the indicators was started. The purpose of the methodology sheets is to provide users at the national level with sufficient information about the concept, significance, measurement and data sources for each indicator so as to facilitate data collection and analysis. The process was coordinated by the United Nations Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD) but builds upon indicator work being carried out in several organizations. The process was marked by a high degree of collaboration among a large number of organizations of the United Nations system, other intergovernmental organizations, and non-governmental organizations.

Organizations which have contributed both to the development of the indicators and to the preparation of the methodology sheets include the following: the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis (DESIPA); the United Nations Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD); the United Nations Department for Development Support and Management Services (DDSMS); the United Nations Department for Humanitarian Affairs (DHA); the secretariat of the Framework Convention on Climate Change; the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its Office to Combat Desertification and Drought (UNSO); the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the secretariat of the Basel Convention; the United Nations University; the Regional Commissions of the United Nations; the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat); the International Labour Organization (ILO); the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the World Health Organization (WHO); the International Telecommunication Union (ITU); the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); the World Bank; the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); the European Communities Statistical Office; the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT); the International Conservation Union (IUCN); the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD); the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA); the National Institute for Public Health and Environmental Protection of the Netherlands (RIVM); the New Economics Foundation; the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE); the Worldwatch Institute; the World Resources Institute (WRI); the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); and the Wuppertal Institute.

In February 1996, a meeting of government experts was organized by the Environment Agency of Japan, in cooperation with DPCSD, in Glen Cove, New York, to discuss and evaluate the methodology sheets from the point of view of potential users. The methodology sheets were also circulated among a roster of international experts for their comments.

The responsible organizations revised the methodology sheets accordingly and a first draft of the publication was presented as a Background Paper no. 15, at the fourth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, in April/May 1996. Since then additional and revised methodology sheets have been submitted by the lead agencies and were incorporated into the revised edition of the document. In a few instances, methodology sheets are still being developed and in these cases, a "bookmark" has been included, stating the name of the indicator, a brief definition, the unit of measurement, and its placement in the framework. The work on completing and revising the methodology sheets will continue, as the CSD work programme on indicators now enters its second phase.

The second phase concentrates on enhancement of information exchange among all interested partners, training and capacity building at the regional and national levels and monitoring the use of the indicators in countries that have shown interest in this process. The publication will now be forwarded to all Governments to assist them in working with indicators in their decision-making processes. As feedback and results from testing, analytical work are discussed, further improvements in the indicators and methodology sheets will be implemented. This includes in the longer run, additional work on interlinkages, highly aggregated indicators and the conceptual framework and compilation of environmental indicators. 



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15 December 2004