The appraisal of sustainability: some problems and possible responses.

Stirling, Andrew (1999) The appraisal of sustainability: some problems and possible responses. Local Environment, 4 (2). pp. 111-135. ISSN 1354-9839

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The development of 'indicators' and associated techniques for the appraisal of 'sustainability' requires efforts to systematically define, quantify and aggregate many disparate dimensions of social, environmental and economic performance. This necessarily raises a number of serious theoretical and methodological difficulties, including those relating to the selection and framing of 'problems' and 'options', the treatment of deep uncertainties and the 'impossibility' of aggregating in analysis the divergent social interests and value judgements which govern the prioritisation of the different dimensions of 'sustainability'. After exploring the depth .and scope of some of these difficulties, this paper argues that they render futile any attempt to develop an 'analytical fix' for the problems of appraisal. In this light, systematic public participation is recognised not just as an issue of political efficacy and legitimacy, but also as a fundamental matter of analytical rigour. However, it is also concluded that once aspirations to the 'analytical fix' are renounced, there is much that might be contributed by transparent, straightfonvard quantitative analytical tools and the paper ends with some recommendations and an example in this regard.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Andrew Stirling
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:54
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2021 14:38
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