Assessing sustainability : a technical fix or a means of social learning?
Wallis, Anne M., Kelly, Alecia R. and Graymore, Michelle L. M. 2010, Assessing sustainability : a technical fix or a means of social learning?, International journal of sustainable development & world ecology, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 67-75.
The contextual nature of sustainability makes it extremely difficult to measure. Across the world each region has a specific environment and history that has shaped values and perceptions of the local community. In response, a wide range of tools has been developed that employ differing techniques to measure sustainability. These have a range of applications from global to site-specific scales. However, it is yet to be resolved whether assessments made using these tools reflect a technical focus with no close links to the knowledge and perceptions of stakeholders, community and management decisions, or whether the assessments reflect the knowledge and perceptions of local stakeholders and the community. In the southwest region of Victoria, Australia, a sustainability index called AIRS (An Index of Regional Sustainability) has recently been developed. This tool is based on indicators selected by stakeholders and considers relationships between the indicators. The aim of this paper is to report an ex-post evaluation of the AIRS sustainability assessment conducted at a subcatchment scale. The evaluation assesses AIRS's ability to assess regional sustainability and compares and contrasts the subcatchment assessments with the knowledge and perceptions of stakeholders and the community. A participatory approach that acknowledges key stakeholders was used for the evaluation process. Representatives from four stakeholder groups were interviewed to elicit their views of the AIRS assessment, its relevance, quality, applicability and priorities for future development. Strengths and weaknesses of AIRS are revealed and its contribution to social learning is highlighted.
Field of Research
050209 Natural Resource Management
Socio Economic Objective
960702 Consumption Patterns, Population Issues and the Environment
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