Perceived Contribution of Indicator Systems to Sustainable Development in Developing Countries
Journal article, 2010

The contribution of indicators and indicator systems to sustainable development is discussed controversially – from positive and limited to negative impacts. Yet, the perception of the potential and risks of sustainability indicator systems influences the success of their implementation. In view of this correlation and the existing research gaps, we investigate the perceived contribution of indicator systems to sustainable development in five Asian cities of developing countries. Thirty interviews with local key actors have been held and a Qualitative Content Analysis has been conducted, drawing on the interview material. Results include a typology of positive and negative contributions based on the type of indicator systems' use, as well as a quantitative description of the level of awareness of different actors. Perceived positive and negative contributions are discussed considering the actors' functions, experiences and cities. The research shows that developers of sustainability indicator systems and scholars have the most awareness concerning risks whereas users and potential users are lacking this, and it portrays future implementation requirements.


indicator systems

sustainable development


developing countries


Sabrina Krank

Holger Wallbaum

Adrienne Grêt-Regamey

Sustainable Development

0968-0802 (ISSN) 1099-1719 (eISSN)

Vol. 21 18-29

Subject Categories

Architectural Engineering

Social and Economic Geography

Environmental Management

Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

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