شاخص های توسعه پایدار، سیاست و حکومت :مسائل مربوط به اقتصاد محیط زیست
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8743||2006||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Ecological Economics, Volume 60, Issue 1, 1 November 2006, Pages 86–99
Ecological economics is a major forum for discussion of theoretical and analytical aspects of measuring sustainability. The role of sustainability indicators as an evaluation method for sustainability within the emerging context of governance merits further analysis. Focusing on policy processes surrounding the production of sustainability indicators, this paper addresses two questions: what is the potential utility of indicators for policy; and in what ways can indicators influence governance? The former is addressed by exploring three disciplines with long histories of indicator application: public administration studies, urban studies and environmental sciences. The latter is addressed by distilling key perspectives from public policy literature on knowledge utilisation and policy learning, which become the foundation for clarifying the notion of policy-resonant indicators. This clarification is achieved by canvassing the spectrum of the influences on indicators and the mechanisms of their resonance in policy processes. The final section of the paper brings these arguments together by exploring two major insights in terms of challenges for ecological economics: strengthening indicator theory and practice by addressing four key ingredients; and mobilisation of indicators through their active use within the context of governance.
The theoretical development and practical use of indicators has been a major concern for many disciplines that are, or wish to be, in close proximity to decision- and policy-making. The global pursuit of sustainability in public policy has catalysed the growth of yet another subset of the indicators approach—sustainability indicators. Ecological economics (EE) is a major forum for discussions on theoretical and analytical aspects of measuring sustainability. There are numerous ways in which sustainability indicators could be categorised, but the scheme developed by the World Bank (2003: p16) is used in Table 1 to illustrate the prominence given to sustainability indicators in the journal Ecological Economics.While most discusion of sustainability indicators are still contained within the academic literature and their progress is limited to the conceptual and methodological, others have reached the realm of policy and practice. For instance, for more than a decade, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has published the Human Development Index (HDI) which has generated mixed responses from experts (Kelley, 1991 and Luchters and Menkhoff, 2000), national media (Morse, 2003b) and policymakers. Indicator sets, or atomistic lists of indicators such as State-of-the-Environment reporting are other approaches that have been tested in actual policy processes (Parris and Kates, 2003 and Selman, 1994), often supported with institutional and policy arrangements such as cross-jurisdictional committees and councils or units within bureaux. As a field of study, EE aspires not to limit its scope to scholarly enquiry, but more importantly to debate and propel social change toward sustainable development. In the inaugural issue of Ecological Economics, Proops (1989: 70–72) singled out ‘measurement and policy’ as one of three major problem areas for EE. Central to this problem is the question of how to judge the effectiveness of policies. Also stressed was the importance of influencing decision makers as an aim of this field (ibid: 63). Prescriptions for preparing EE as the new political language of governance are numerous. Viederman (1994), for instance, contends that EE needs to become ‘the knowledge base’ for the new politics. One way of achieving this is to sharpen the ‘external rhetoric’ of EE through orientation toward post-normal science approaches (Luks, 1998). It was also envisaged that ecological economists would be influential once they occupied powerful advisory positions analogous to the ascendancy of neo-classical economists to the corridors of power (Proops, 1989). However, there is little evidence thus far indicating a paradigm change (see Foster-Carter, 1976) in the direction of these prescriptions. The aspiration to be policy-relevant points to the need of embedding the knowledge on sustainability further into the fabric of decision-making. By virtue of their inherent pragmatism to be policy relevant, indicator systems (as a key area in EE), may function as strategic instruments to influence policy change. This would require a deeper understanding of the behaviour of information in policy systems—focusing on the Baconian dictum of ‘knowledge as power’. Comprehending the social basis of indicator development calls for a detailed understanding of policy processes. Save for a few recent works (Hezri and Hasan, 2004, Innes and Booher, 2000 and Rydin et al., 2003), existing scholarship on sustainability indicators lacks a clear articulation of its nature as a tool of politics. Aiming to fill the lacuna, this paper focuses on two interrelated questions: (i) what is the potential utility of indicators in policy processes? and (ii) how can indicators influence governance? The paper proceeds in four stages. Section 2 focuses on the demands of ‘governance’, entailing multiple actors in policy systems, rather than on conventional, narrow notions of ‘government’: governance better captures the nature of challenges in sustainability policy. Section 3 examines major characteristics of related disciplines that have shaped the theory and practice of indicators. In understanding the utility of indicators in policy processes, it is instructive to learn from disciplines with a longer history of indicator application such as public administration studies, urban studies, and the environmental sciences. Section 4 delves into the notion of policy-resonant indicators by canvassing the possible spectrum of indicator influence on public policy. Finally, Section 5 brings these arguments together by exploring the implications for indicator systems provided by EE.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
It is important to develop a richer understanding of the potential ways in which analysis and development of indicators in EE could perform better in practice. For the reasons canvassed earlier, EE needs greater clarity of thinking in two related areas: strengthening indicator theory and practice; and understanding and mobilising indicators within the context of governance. 5.1. Strengthening indicator theory and practice Because interest in indicators has largely developed in policy and management contexts, it does not follow that learning across the different disciplinary applications is limited. In the environmental sciences, facile articulation of the role of indicators in policy, based parochially on an instrumental rationalism perspective, limits their utility. With its transdiscplinary ethos that embraces ‘different ways of knowing’ (Meppem and Bourke, 1999), EE may be able to perform beyond such a level, and consolidate and build on the theory and practice of indicators in related disciplines. A question worth asking is: what are the ingredients that would make an indicator (system) a functional policy instrument for sustainability? The following are proposed as key ingredients. Salience to the core values of the user. Performance indicators in public administration studies demonstrate that indicator systems can be effectively used in serving operational, administrative and procedural functions. This is attributable to performance indicators' salience to the core values of public sector users. Indicators are developed around the language that tangibly matters to the government—input, output, process, and outcome. In some countries, performance indicators are tightly linked to the chain of accountability (audit offices, citizen jury) enabling the system to be more influential in societal decisions. In environmental policy, there is a tendency for epistemic communities to limit their cooperation to environmental agencies only; sustainability indicators will inform policy more closely with a stronger link with core bureaux. Self-referential propensity and methodological pluralism. The three selected fields in Section 3 are insulated from each other because of their development from different theoretical roots—a propensity to be self-referential where the aim for methodological pluralism (Norgaard, 1989a) is compromised. This has resulted in analytical blind-spots, which is structural in scale and epistemology. For instance, urban studies is capable of exploring the concept of governance empirically as policy processes at urban scale are easier to discern compared to national or international investigations. At the national level, analysis of policy processes is usually within the domain of public policy, employing different methodological canons and theoretical constructs. Environmental science, fixed on the question of how sustainability should be defined and measured, falls short in exploring the embedding of indicators into policy processes. More interaction across scales and epistemology is needed in exchanging knowledge on the efficacy of indicators in governance. Synoptic capacity in comprehending sustainability. In the environmental sciences, rigorous treatment in developing aggregative methodology of indices development is facilitating what Edward O. Wilson termed ‘consilience’, that is, ‘the jumping together of knowledge’ (Wilson, 1998). Apart from the production of a disparate menu of indicators, aggregated information helps to focus a user's attention to the integrative nature of sustainability. Reflexivity and policy processes. In urban studies, the understanding of process is central and information is seen as useful when understood as socially constructed. Urban studies does not only concern itself with the analysis of facts: it is richer in epistemological analysis concerning processes and people, adding a reflexive turn to indicator analysis. Reflexivity gives valuable insights into the notion of power and the politics of indicator production. Placing indicator development within the frame of social construction will enable analysts to perceive the embeddedness of indicators in the society. The utility of this knowledge is in encouraging more grounded thinking towards better institutional arrangements for sustainability indicators. 5.2. Mobilising EE indicators within the context of governance Broadened participation in governance increases the likelihood that a single set of indicators will have multiple uses and users. In this paper these uses have been defined as: instrumental, conceptual; tactical; symbolic; and political utilisation. It is no longer necessary to always have indicators as policy information strictly for officials or ministers. However, clear delineation of the purpose and policy-guiding value of different indicators could help clarify their position in the spectrum of policy decisions. Assigning distance to policy decisions enables the indicator developer to target the marketability of a given indicator system to selected users, and to types of policy learning (Section 4.2). Indicators that describe a condition that users in planning agencies are able to influence are more likely to induce instrumental utilisation; that is, use for action. As a result, instrumental and government learning is likely to occur among policy elite and state officials, provided that the preconditions such as clear policy guiding values and end-points are met. Income and fiscal indicators derived from the System of National Accounts (SNA) are known to fulfil these preconditions for they are institutionalised and embedded in governments' chain of monitoring and actions—SNA indicators are positioned close to the decision point. As an extension of the SNA system, green national accounting (a key area in EE indicator work) has the potential to emulate the resonance of SNA indicators. At present, such practical application is still a distant possibility as environmental accounting is undergoing rapid development and many challenges remain (Holub et al., 1999 and Norgaard, 1989b). Nonetheless, the framework for extended green national accounts has been evolving with processes that encourage their conceptual utilisation, in theory at least. The harmonisation of these hitherto inconsistent frameworks is a demonstration of policy learning within the context of governance. Supranational state actors, mainly policy elites from national and international statistical agencies, have contributed in preparing a common methodology by revising the 1993 interim handbook of the System of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA) (UNSD, 2000). The modus operandi includes a joint-forum between the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and the international London Group on Environmental Accounting to exchange practical and theoretical expertise on the development of green national accounts. This was complemented by pilot testing of green national accounts in selected countries (Bartelmus, 1997). Lessons learned from this purposive and persistent policy process include a consensus on the viable methodology of developing green national accounts and the recognition of potential policy guiding value of disaggregated indicators ( Holub et al., 1999 and UNSD, 2002: 154–163). These lessons have been a step in the right direction for the production of indicators that resonate with the needs of governments and international agencies as the main users. Adaptable indicators such as those designed to reflect and influence community values can be expected to contribute to conceptual, tactical or symbolic modes of utilisation. These are also dependent on a set of preconditions and drivers. Indicators of importance within the EE domain have also been mobilised to assist governance in those modes of utilisation, by contributing to ideas, practice and communication. With limited examples, indicators and indices are institutionalised in policy systems in both the public or private organisations. In the United States, the genuine progress indicators (GPI) and ecological footprint (EF) indicators are used as a major tool of policy advocacy by Redefining Progress, an independent public policy institute (Halstead, 1998). For over a decade, Redefining Progress has meshed the content of GPI and recently EF with public perceptions, challenging conventional economic indicators through publications, press reports and collaborations with like-minded organisations. Inevitably, these indicators are exposed to the politics of information, linking the content of indicators to ideological positions and vested interests (Halstead, 1998). Assuming a positive trajectory, gradually, the content of these indicators will influence the social construction of sustainability as a policy problem and result in social learning. Social learning can be said to have taken place when normative and legal expectations concerning sustainability are changed. Indicators in the public domain as exemplified above are a showcase of the transformation of the traffic flow of information in the transition from ‘government’ to ‘governance’. At the risk of oversimplifying, in ‘government’, instrumental rationality would dominate; in ‘governance’, the flow of information is divided into other types of procedural rationalities. This requires a ‘post-normal’ turn (Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1994), whereby indicator systems must be developed with users, or alternatively released to a ‘negotiation space’ be it a policy, scientific or public domain. Both strategies will enable discursive processes to take place. Why does the Human Development Index (HDI) ‘strike a chord’ with policymakers and the mainstream press around the world every year following its release? A plausible explanation has to do with HDI's packaging as an international league-table ranking. Many countries are sensitive to the fluctuation of their place in the ranking regardless of the methodological inconsistency in producing HDI (see Morse, 2004: 151–156). With a post-normal orientation, indicators are mobilised not only toward instrumental and conceptual utilisation, but encompass tactical, symbolic and political utilisation. In all cases, the marketability of indicators is a critical consideration to ensure they will pass the cognitive screening of potential users, linking the informational content to the chain of action in strategic advocacy. 5.3. Concluding remarks In this article, the utility of sustainability indicators as a policy instrument in governance has been discussed. Further advancement in the theory and practice of sustainability indicators is dependent on continuous conceptual, methodological, and institutional integration. The insertion of sustainability indicators into policy processes, depending on circumstances, can enable different rationalities to coincide and either support or contend with each other. Clearly, this is not without negative implications. When indicators are engulfed in politics, the information explosion will widen the gap between those who can and cannot access information and debates. A related risk to governments is loss of flexibility in manoeuvering policy change, as knowledge and thus influence becomes more widely held and accountability increases. The above notwithstanding, when designed and used with a healthy dose of pragmatism, indicators that resonate with policy may no longer be an overstretched concept. The insights offered here can be used to design better sustainability indicators that are more capable of informing policy- and decision-making within a given governing system. Such a goal is a stated objective in EE, but greater clarity in this regard can be achieved using the insights distilled here from other disciplines and the policy learning field.